According to the Traditional Healers Association (THA), the temporary removal of Joe Mafela’s tombstone is generally against African tradition.
The veteran actor’s elaborate tombstone dominated the headlines after its unveiling on Wednesday. However, later on Thursday, pictures of the Mafela’s grave without the flashy design went viral on social media.
When the speculation that grave thieves must have taken it began to spread, it was revealed that the stone was taken by the company that made it.
The stone was replaced by a slab of concrete lined by bouquets of flowers. Nevertheless, plans are reportedly in place to put the stone back permanently.
Meanwhile, national coordinator of the THA, Phephisile Maseko said that the action was against African tradition. Apparently, taking anything away from a grave site is nothing short of a taboo in the African concept.
“In our tradition you don’t remove anything from a cemetery. Once you take something to the graveyard it means you have left it for the dead and that it’s theirs now,” he told Sowetan.
Unfazed by the THA’s comment on the matter, Mafela’s family said they don’t mind that the stone was removed.
Moreover, a family representative said the tombstone was never placed on his grave. It was just unveiled for the benefit of his funeral and was later taken away by the manufacturers with the family’s permission for a few days.
Mafela’s son Jimmy said the headstone would be put back on Mafela’s grave permanently at a later stage.
“No one at home has a problem with it being removed for now. We are doing things our way. They brought it to the cemetery yesterday so we could see it as some of us had not seen it before,” he said.
The family calls for the public to give them time to come to terms with the veteran’s death and mourn him accordingly.
Joe Mafela’s tombstone is an exact replica of a living room with a plasma TV, fancy TV stand, a couch and a coffee table.