Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged members of Nelson Mandela's family to find the respect that he, and the nation, deserves at a difficult time.
His statement comes after Nelson Mandela's grandson explained his side of a family feud. A court upheld an order requested by family members, forcing Mandla Mandela to return the remains of relatives he had exhumed from the family home in Qunu in 2011.
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Please, please, please may we think not only of ourselves. It's almost like spitting in Madiba's face.
We cannot imagine how difficult it must be for a family to endure being physically separated from its father for the 27 years that Mr Mandela spent in prison, only to have to share him with the world when freedom came.
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. Please may we not besmirch his name.
The gates to a property belonging to Nelson Mandela's grandson in the Eastern Cape of South Africa have been broken down by police.
According to Eyewitness News, digging is taking place to exhume the bodies of three of his grandfather's children that were allegedly moved from their original graves in 2011.
It comes after a judge ruled Mandla Mandela had until 3pm local time (14.00BST) to return the bodies to the original graveyard.
Police have entered Nelson Mandela's grandson's property after he lost a court battle against other family members about the remains of three of his grandfather's children.
Mandla Mandela is said to have arranged for the bodies to be moved from their original graves in 2011 to his village. Earlier today, a high court issued an order for them to be restored.
#Madiba Sheriff of the court breaks open the gates to Mandla Mandela's property in Mvezo. Hearses are inside while media asked to leave.
Nelson Mandela's grandson, Mandla, will allow the exhumation this afternoon, his spokesman says.
Nelson Mandela's grandson has said he is "disappointed" after losing a court battle against other family members over the graves of three of the ex-South African President's children.
Mandla Mandela had allegedly moved the bodies from their original graves and transferred them to his village of Mvezo.
A statement issued on his behalf said court papers had not been "properly served" and he had not been given the opportunity to respond to the order which said the remains should be restored today.
It also said Mandla "has had a lot of allegations and dirt thrown in his direction" and will hold a news conference to "put to bed a lot of the issues circulating in the public space".
Nelson Mandela's grandson has lost a court battle against other members of the family, in a row over the graves of three of the former South African President's children, Reuters reports.
Mandla Mandela was ordered to exhume the bodies and return them to their original graves after he had them transferred 12 miles to his Eastern Cape village of Mvezo.
Last week, 16 of his family members applied for a court order to force Mandla to return the bodies, which were allegedly moved two years ago from the village of Qunu, where the anti-apartheid leader grew up.
Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe, who led the legal challenge against Mandla, declined to comment to reporters after the ruling. "This is a private family matter," she said.
The Eastern Cape High Court in South Africa has postponed a hearing about the relocation of the graves of three of Nelson Mandela's children until tomorrow.
An order was made last week by 16 members of the Mandela family to have the graves moved back to their original place in Qunu, however the former president's grandson Mandla Mandela has tried to block the order.
His lawyer Phillip Zilwa told the court on Tuesday that the order was "erroneously" granted as the court had not heard from Mandla.
After hearing arguments Judge Lusindiso Pakade said he wanted both parties to submit heads of argument to him by Wednesday.
Criminal charges have been laid against Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla over the alleged exhumation and reburial of three of the former president's children, Eastern Cape police have confirmed.
Nelson Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe and 16 other Mandela family members were last week granted an order compelling Mandla Mandela to return the remains to Qunu.
The remains were those of Mandla Mandela's father Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005; Mandela's first daughter Makaziwe, who died as an infant in 1948; and Mandela's second son Madiba Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969.
Mandela relatives claim Mandla had not sought permission nor informed the family he had moved the graves.
Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela facing charges over the illegal tampering of graves, South African media reported, citing police spokesman Mzukisi Fatyela.