Nelson Mandela’s health ‘perilous,’ court documents say

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PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — Court papers lodged by members of former South African leader Nelson Mandela’s family in a burial dispute reveal that his “health is perilous” and that fears his death is drawing near are justified.

The affidavit was lodged in court this week as 16 members of Mandela’s family battled his grandson, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, also known as Mandla, over where three of the anti-apartheid icon’s deceased children should be buried.

Mandla Mandela lost his case Wednesday, which means he must return the remains of the three relatives to the family graveyard in Qunu, Nelson Mandela’s boyhood home.

He is accused of exhuming and relocating the bodies in 2011 to Mvezo, Nelson Mandela’s birthplace.

Nelson Mandela has been in a critical condition in a Pretoria hospital since June 8.

But the family affidavit lodged at the Mthatha High Court gives new insight into the seriousness of his condition.

“The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds,” it reads.

“The applicants are desirous of burying their father and committing him to earth in which his descendants lie.”

The family members said it is “incontestable” that the reburial of his three deceased children is what he wants.

“The applicants do not want a situation to be created in which Nelson Mandela’s remains are committed to lie in a burial site, entirely alone and forlorn and absent from the remains of his children,” the affidavit said.

The remains buried in Mvezo were found Wednesday evening and taken to a mortuary, Eastern Cape police said, according to the South African Press Association. They will undergo forensic testing before being reburied in Qunu, the news agency reported.

Mandla Mandela issued a statement Wednesday saying he’ll abide by the court decision but continue “to fight for his right to put on record his side of the story.”

A statement issued on the grandson’s behalf said he is “disappointed that to date he has not been granted an opportunity to respond to the court order granted against him by the Mthatha High Court. He has maintained that the papers were not properly served on him and therefore he has as a result been denied the right to respond to the contents of the court application against him.”

Mandla Mandela said Thursday that his grandfather’s health is the chief issue on his mind, the South African Press Association reported.

“My grandfather continues to be stable while in a critical space,” he said.

“I want to focus on what matters most, being with my grandfather, ensuring I can be with him at this moment that he needs us most. …”

South African President Jacob Zuma, who visited Nelson Mandela in the hospital Thursday, said he remains critical but stable, according to a statement from his office.

CNN’s Robyn Curnow reported in Pretoria, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London. CNN’s Claudia Dominguez and Kim Norgaard contributed to this report.

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