mandla mandela (screenshot)

Mandla Mandela at his July 4, 2013 press conference

*As former South African President Nelson Mandela lies critically ill in a Johannesburg hospital, his descendants are publicly feuding. And it’s nasty.

According to LA Times Africa correspondent, Robyn Dixon, the acrimony came to a head Thursday as Nelson Mandela’s grandson and family chief – Mandla Mandela – made a number of startling, drama filled accusations.

He accused his half-brother, Mbuso, of impregnating his (Mandla’s) wife; called another brother, Nbada, illegitimate and said Nelson Mandela’s oldest daughter, Makaziwe, was sowing “divisions and destruction” in the family.

Mandla’s assertions came after accusations earlier in the week by Ndaba Mandela that it was Mandla was illegitimate, in an apparent effort to topple him as chief as the family battles over the future of the famous Mandela name – and the money it might generate.

“I do not want to hang out our dirty linen as a family in public,” Mandla Mandela said at a news conference, before he proceeded to do just that. “But he [Ndaba] knows very well that my father impregnated a married woman, of which he is the result of that act. So he should be very careful when he wants to throw insults, particularly to my mother who still sits by my side and ensures that I am able to wake up every day to serve my community.”

Mandla Mandela, chief of the AbaThembu clan, lost a court battle Wednesday to other family members, forcing him to surrender the bones of his father and his father’s siblings — Nelson Mandela’s three dead children. Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah and other family members accused the chief of stealing the bones from the former president’s home village of Qunu and reburying them at his homestead at Mvezo to ensure that Nelson Mandela eventually would be buried there.

Mandla Mandela’s allegations came as the office of South African President Jacob Zuma announced that Nelson Mandela remained in a critical but stable condition in a Pretoria hospital where he was admitted June 8 with a lung infection.

For more of this LA Times story bu Robyn Dixon, go here.

Watch video of Mandla Mandela’s press conference below.

Meanwhile, Bishop Desmond Tutu has a message for the messy mandelas: get over yourselves and stop besmirching the anti-apartheid icon’s name.

“Please, please, please may we think not only of ourselves. It’s almost like spitting in Madiba’s face,” Tutu said in a statement, according to the South African Press Association. “Your anguish, now, is the nation’s anguish — and the world’s. We want to embrace you, to support you, to shine our love for Madiba through you.”

Madiba is Nelson Mandel’s clan name.