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DURBAN, South Africa (AFP) – South Africa's presidency urged Nelson Mandela's family Friday to solve an increasingly bitter dispute "amicably", weighing in for the first time on a feud over the ailing anti-apartheid icon's final resting place.
"It is regrettable that there is a dispute going on amongst family members and we'd like that dispute to be resolved as amicably and as soon as possible," President Jacob Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP in an interview.
After a heated court battle, 15 Mandela relatives, including his three daughters and wife Graca Machel, won a court order to rebury the remains of his three deceased children on Wednesday.
His oldest grandson Mandla, 39, had moved the graves from Mandela's childhood village Qunu to his own nearby homestead in Mvezo two years ago without the family's permission.
Following the ruling Mandla launched a tirade at his relatives.
In a nationally televised news conference on Thursday he accused one of his brothers of impregnating his wife and said others were born out of wedlock.
Mandla also accused other close relatives of money-grabbing and said Mandela's daughter Makaziwe was trying to "sow divisions and destruction" in her family.
Maharaj refused to comment on a nine-day-old court document which said the 94-year-old former statesman was judged to be in a "permanent vegetative state" and that his doctors had recommended switching off his life-support machines.
"We did not file any document and we are not saying that it's true or not true," he said.
The filing was produced by a Mandela family lawyer last Wednesday and argued for an urgent court hearing so that a burial place for the critically ill Mandela could be finalised.
Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for fighting white-minority rule and went on to lead the process of racial reconciliation as South Africa's first black president, indicated in the past he wanted to be buried with his family.
The moved graves meant there was confusion about his final resting place.
Since the court document was published, the presidency as well as Mandela's family and friends have said his condition has improved.
But Maharaj would not confirm if the document described Mandela's health accurately.
South Africa's first black president remained in a "critical but stable" condition, Maharaj said, but did not elaborate, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.