Zoleka Mandela's funeral, which was meant to be a dignified and peaceful occasion, was filled with unexpected drama and controversy. Contrary to initial reports, Zoleka was not buried alongside her grandmother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Fourways Memorial Park on Friday. Zenani Mandela, another family member, obtained a court interdict to prevent Zoleka from being buried at the Mandela plot, leading to a contentious situation.
To ensure compliance with the interdict, the presence of the police was required to prevent Zoleka from being laid to rest next to her family members. The Mandela plot, where Zoleka's mother, Zindziswa Mandela, and her two children are buried, was intended to be her final resting place. Zoleka tragically lost her 13-year-old daughter in a car accident in 2010 and later experienced the loss of a premature son.
According to an anonymous source, Zoleka's ex-husband, Thierry Bashala, had purchased another grave for her at the memorial park. The source revealed that there was a significant amount of drama surrounding the burial arrangements. Initially, a grave had been dug for Zoleka next to her family, but her husband refused to allow her to be buried there. As a result, she was laid to rest in the location chosen by her husband, leading to division within the family.
“There was drama here and they had already dug a grave for her next to her family, but the husband refused them to bury her there,” said the source.
“They ended up burying her where the husband had planned, and the family ended up being divided.”
During the funeral proceedings, a list circulated on social media, allegedly containing the names of individuals whom Zoleka did not want present at her funeral. Thierry Bashala's name was mentioned among those individuals. Other names listed included Leeroy Andie Cana, the father of Zoleka's youngest child, as well as various members from the Mandela and Madikizela families, such as Zenani Mandela Snr, Mandla Mandela, Zukiswa Madikizela, Nsundu Madikizela, and Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.
The public drama undermined Mandela's memorization and exposed complex family dynamics that persisted even after her passing from metastatic cancer. Some relatives were reportedly absent from the funeral service as well due to interpersonal conflicts.
While legally compelled to respect the court's decision, the disrupted burial plans were a sad coda to Mandela's courageous life. Her legacy as a fighter for justice and healer of societal wounds deserved a dignified farewell free of interpersonal disputes.
Hopefully, with time and reflection, all family members can reconcile and celebrate Mandela's contributions without further strife over her final resting place. Her memory is best honored through unity, not division.