According to an affidavit seen by The Times – submitted by the Mandela family’s lawyers during a high court battle between the two feuding Mandela parties – the former president’s health “is perilous”.
Last night, President Jacob Zuma’s office issued a statement saying that doctors had denied Mandela was “in a vegetative state”.
Zuma said Mandela remained “in a critical but stable condition”.
But court papers reveal that doctors treating Mandela had advised the family to switch off the life support machine.
The affidavit was submitted by advocate David Smith but was not made available to the media and the public as the parties involved tried to keep the matter secret, as a sign of respect to Mandela.
“The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds,” Smith wrote.
“I have been advised by my instructing attorney that Mr Nelson Mandela’s health has taken a turn for the worst and that the Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off,” he said.
The “certificate of urgency” was filed on Wednesday last week by a lawyer representing Mandela family members who successfully sought a court order to return Nelson Mandela’s children’s remains to Qunu.
His grandson, Mandla, had them moved to his own village of Mvezo in 2011.
The bones of Thembekile, Makgatho and Makaziwe were exhumed from the Mandela family cemetery in Mvezo on Wednesday.
They were reburied at a new site in Qunu yesterday afternoon after DNA tests confirmed their identities. It is believed Mandela will be buried at the same site.
Mandela’s wife, Graça, who has been spending nights at her husband’s bedside since June 8, broke her silence yesterday.
“Though Madiba sometimes may be uncomfortable, a very few times he is in pain, but he is fine,” she said in Houghton, Johannesburg.
Attempts to get comment from Mandela’s relatives regarding the medical report presented in the Mthatha High Court were unsuccesful yesterday.
Earlier in the day, the fighting among the family got even dirtier.
Mandla launched a scathing attack on his aunt Makaziwe, accusing her of seeking his grandfather’s wealth.
He disowned two of his brothers and warned half-brother Ndaba not to insult his (Mandla’s) mother.
Speaking at a press conference in Mvezo, he said his aunt had “no business” in Mandela clan affairs.
In comments directed at Ndaba, Mandla said his father, Makgatho, had paid lobola for his mother, Nolusapho, but Ndaba had been born out of wedlock.
“He [Ndaba] knows very well that my father impregnated a married woman [Ndaba’s mother] and he is a result of that act.
“He should be very careful when he wants to throw insults, particularly at my mother, who still nurtures me to serve my community,” said Mandla.
He said the remaining two brothers – Mbuso and Andile – were not his father’s children.
Mandla accused Mbuso of having fathered a son with his [Mandla’s] French-speaking wife, Anais Grimaud, and said Ndaba had failed “dismally” to resolve the matter.
Mbuso responded by describing Mandla’s claims as the reactions of “a hurt and angry man”.
He said it was a blatant lie that he was not Makgatho’s son.
“He is trying to retaliate because he lost a case . He is doing whatever he needs to make the media and community look at him and say: ‘Ag shame, poor Mandla’.”
Mbuso would neither confirm nor deny that he had fathered a child with Mandla’s wife.
Mandla said his aunts were after his grandfather’s wealth and, as married women, Madiba’s daughters traditionally had “no business” in the affairs of the Mandela clan, he claimed.
He said the real reason the family had turned against him was his refusal to be part of the court case that Mandela’s daughters had instituted to try to remove human rights lawyer George Bizos, lawyer Bally Chuene and Tokyo Sexwale as trustees of Nelson Mandela’s Harmonique and Magnifique Investments Holdings.
Makaziwe was the fourth-eldest child from Mandela’s first marriage, to Evelyn Mase, and was married, he said.
“She is, in fact, a Mrs Amuah and ought to be focusing on the Amuah family issues.
“As my aunt, her role is supposed to be that of a unifier and a reconciler as umafungwase [eldest child]. But so far all she’s done is sow divisions and destruction in [the Mandela] family.”
Mandla said his heart was torn apart by the dramatic removal of the remains, including those of his father, on Wednesday.
Though he was disappointed in the court’s decision to order the exhumation, he would not challenge the matter further.
The service at the Qunu grave site was short. – Additional reporting by Loyiso Mpalantshane, Lulamile Feni, Siya Boya, and Sipho Masombuka