Work starts to open Madiba’s grave to the public
Former president Nelson Mandela’s gravesite in Qunu in the Eastern Cape is receiving a face-lift. The renovations form part of plans to open it for public viewing for the first time since Madiba’s passing in December 2013 as part of centenary celebrations of the global icon’s birth next year.
The gravesite has been reserved for family and close friends since he was buried on his farm near Mthatha.
The public was also not allowed to attend the burial.
City Press has observed work being done at the gravesite with new structures, including shelters, being constructed.
Ndaba Mandela, one of Madiba’s grandsons, confirmed that there was work taking place to accommodate visitors and tourists and that the family was hoping that everything would be ready by the time the world celebrated the centenary of his famous grandfather’s birth next year.
“We are hoping that the gravesite will be open and ready before Mandela Day on July 18. There is still a lot of work to be done. We are still raising money. These things take time,” Mandela said.
Mandela added that the family wanted to make sure there was shelter where people could sit, a garden and other amenities such as running water before public viewing commenced.
He said the project was being spearheaded by the family. He could not say how much more money was still needed to complete the project, nor divulge how much had already been spent.
Nkosikazi Nokwanele Balizulu, the chief of Qunu, whose home is on the doorstep of Madiba’s house along the N2 highway between Mthatha and East London, said she was aware of activities taking place at the global icon’s gravesite, but nothing official had been communicated to the royal family.
“The only information that I got at a meeting at the Nelson Mandela Museum recently, was that they were discussing plans to refurbish Madiba’s gravesite so that it can be open to the public. Other than that, Qunu residents and even I as chief are not aware of what is really going on,” Balizulu said.
Mandela did not want to comment on the latest developments regarding the controversial book written about his grandfather’s last days.
Asked whether he was aware that the book was being distributed widely through social media and the internet, in spite of the publisher having withdrawn hard copies from bookshops, Mandela would not be drawn to comment.
The controversial book was authored by former surgeon-general Dr Vejay Ramlakan. It was withdrawn by its publishers, Penguin Random House SA, following an outcry by the family and threats of legal action.
Mandela said some members of the family were against the book, but not all.
He refused to comment further on the material currently going viral on the internet and socialmedia platforms.
Lunga Nene, spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, also did not want to comment on the book saga, saying they were aware it had spread via social media.
“We are aware that it’s going viral but that’s that,” she shrugged.