Embalm Madiba plea to state

Zandile Mbabela, Graeme Hosken, Loyiso Mpalantshane, and Katharine Child

AS President Jacob Zuma eased anxiety about former president Nelson Mandela’s health yesterday, saying that he was “responding better to treatment”, a Port Elizabeth businessman made a controversial call for the ailing world icon’s body to be embalmed when he dies.

In a letter to Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, former politician Mike Xego wrote: “I am of the strong belief that when Madiba’s day comes, we must not bury him underground.

“He must lie in Pretoria, for many generations to see the great man. He must be embalmed… It may be an expensive exercise, but we can’t put a price on Madiba.”

Aware that he was opening a political, cultural and religious can of worms, Xego said his unusual request was in line with Mandela’s sentiments after his release from prison, when he said: “I give the remaining years of my life to you, the people.”

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