MVEZO, South Africa // Nelson Mandela's grandson thrust an increasingly bitter family feud into the public eye yesterday, after details emerged of the 94-year-old's "perilous" condition.
Mandla Mandela, forced by a court to return the remains of three of Mr Mandela's children to the South African leader's proposed burial ground in Qunu, launched a tirade against close family.
With his grandfather critically ill in hospital, Mandla Mandela reacted furiously to the court order. He accused one of his brothers of impregnating his wife and others of being born out of wedlock.
He also accused other close relatives of being money-grabbing.
"In the past few days I have been the target of attacks from all sorts of individuals wanting a few minutes of fame and media attention at my expense," he said. He also accused Mr Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe, of attempting to "sow divisions and destruction" in her family.
And he said the anti-apartheid hero's former wife Winnie, who has regularly visited him in hospital, "has no business in the matters of the Mandelas".
He also lashed out at his brother Ndaba for claiming he was born out of wedlock.
"I don't want to hang out our dirty linen as a family in public but he knows very well that my father impregnated a married woman of which he is the result of that act," he said. "As for the remaining of my two brothers, we all know that they are not my father's children."
But he said he would not fight a court order to move the remains of his father, uncle and aunt from his estate in Mvezo, the eastern village where he is overseeing large-scale development as the local traditional chief, to nearby Qunu, Nelson Mandela's childhood home.
The three bodies were exhumed on Wednesday after a sheriff forced open the gates of the estate with a pickaxe to allow three hearses to enter the property. The bodies were moved there in 2011, allegedly without the family's consent.
The issue has taken on added urgency, after court documents submitted by 15 family members said Nelson Mandela was in a "perilous" state "assisted in breathing by a life support machine."
President Jacob Zuma, who visited his predecessor yesterday, repeated the government's now-standard line that Mandela "remains critical but stable" after nearly a month in hospital.