Mandela family wants action against funeral cash thieves

A framed image of former South African President Nelson Mandela. The revered icon of the anti-apartheid struggle and a towering figure of 20th century politics, died on December 5 aged 95. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The Mandela family has called on law enforcement agencies to bring to book government officials who “shamelessly” benefited the late statesman Nelson Mandela’s funeral four years ago.

The Royal House of Mandela in the Eastern Cape Province has said they were utterly disappointed by allegations of corruption with regard to Mr Mandela’s funeral arrangements in December 2013.

This comes after the Public Protector, Mr Busisiwe Mkhwebane, released a damning report last week detailing how the Eastern Cape provincial government demanded millions for preparations for the former South Africa leader’s burial in his Qunu home.

Due protocol

“We find it incredulous that while we, as a family, a nation – and indeed the world – were mourning the loss of our elder, icon, leader and statesman, some people were allegedly conniving to profit financially by shamelessly siphoning off funds or alternatively allegedly not observing good governance in terms of following due protocol, observing delegations or mandates,” said Mr Mandela’s grandson, Chief Mandla Mandela.

Chief Mandla, who is also an African National Congress (ANC) legislator, said he wants heads to roll.

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“The allegations should be tried and tested in a court of law, ensuring that the criminal justice system takes its full course and should the allegations be found to be true‚ the guilty parties should face the full wrath of the law," he said.

He added it was “unfathomable that a legacy built on principled action‚ integrity and a high degree of ethical standards should be so sullied and allegedly be associated with such criminal intent”.

In the damning 300-page report, Mr Mkhwebane laid bare details of how officials in Mr Mandela’s home province, went on a spending spree with R330 million ($23.5 million) that was initially allocated for development projects.

Ablution facilities

Mr Mandela died at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013, after battling a recurring lung infection, opening floodgates for officials to misuse the infrastructure development grant.

The Public Protector has since directed Finance minister Malusi Gigaba, to request President Jacob Zuma to order the corruption-busting Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the alleged unlawful expenditure of public money.

The embezzled funds were meant for the provision of running water, electricity, sanitation, ablution facilities, the replacement of mud schools and refurbishment of hospitals in one of the country’s poorest regions.

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