The Nelson Mandela Foundation has announced its plans of turning the anti-apartheid icon’s gravesite into a tourist attraction.
The Foundation said that this particular work is part of the projects to mark the centenary of Mandela’s birth in July 1918. The gravesite has only been accessible by immediate family till date, but that will change soon and it is expected that the gravesite will boost the economy of the area where South Africa’s first democratically-elected President was born.
Mandela, who died in December 2013, at the age of 95, was buried at his huge ancestral farm in the rural area of Qunu in Eastern Cape province, where he established a home after his release from prison following 27 years as a political prisoner, most of them on Robben Island.
As per the approved plans, the gravesite would form part of a liberation tourist trail that included the birthplaces of Mandela and other African National Congress leaders Oliver Tambo and Chris Hani, in nearby villages.
The province is expected to receive a huge economic boost from local and foreign tourism, as there have often been requests, particularly from foreign tourists, to pay their respects to the former leader.
Mandela’s widow Graca Machel has reportedly agreed to the plan to make the gravesite accessible to tourists, but his former wife of many years Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has threatened to interdict the Foundation and the provincial government, citing an ongoing legal battle about her claim to her former husband’s home.
Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi told the media that they had received permission to lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court after they lost the case in a lower court.
But Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara, the chairman of the royal family of the amaThembu clan, which includes the Mandela family, dismissed his former wife’s claim.
Mtirara said the Qunu property in dispute had nothing to do with the site of the grave, even if Madikizela-Mandela won her claim to the homestead.