JOHANNESBURG — A squabble between Nelson Mandela's eldest grandson and more than a dozen other family members over the bodies of three of his children intensified Wednesday as police broke down the gates surrounding the burial site to fulfill a judge's order that the bodies be exhumed and returned to a village where the ailing Mandela himself is to be buried.
Earlier in the day, a judge in the Eastern Cape High Court in Mthatha ordered the grandson, Mandla Mandela, to return the bodies immediately from the small village of Mvezo, where Nelson Mandela was born, to the nearby village of Qunu, where he was raised and where he wishes to be buried.
Mandla Mandela is not opposed to the bodies' exhumation, his spokesman, Freddy Pelusa, said in a statement after the ruling, but pursued the case only because he thought he had not been treated properly by the court. Hearses arrived at the Mvezo site by midafternoon to transport the bodies and the police used a pickax to break through a gate surrounding the property to begin the exhumation. By late afternoon, police and health officials had unearthed the remains in three unmarked graves and taken them to a mortuary to be prepared for the move to Qunu.