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THE South African Heritage Resources Agency and the KZN heritage agency Amafa are embroiled in a turf war over the status of the grave site of Queen Nandi, mother of Zulu king Shaka.
Zulu history shows that Queen Nandi, who was a military adviser to her son, was buried in September 1827 in a simple grave at Melmoth near KwaBulawayo, King Shaka's capital at the time.
SAHRA was reacting to accusations by Amafa that it had "tampered illegally" with her grave site.
This followed allegations that Amafa had recently "vandalised the site with bulldozers" and moved the grave to a site in Ulundi.
SAHRA is the statutory body responsible for co-ordinating and monitoring the identification of the country's national heritage.
Spokesperson Solayman Ebrahim said it believed the grave site was of "national significance" and should be recognised as a grade 1 site.
Last year SAHRA renovated the grave site to reflect the stature of the queen.
"We had negotiations with the royal household, with King Zwelethini Zulu himself, the community, the office of the premier and the descendants of Queen Nandi and it was agreed that the grave was in need of renovation. "We have since heard that it has been vandalised and we are looking into the matter."
Ebrahim said SAHRA would call a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the matter.
Amafa chairperson Arthur Kongingkramer said he was not prepared to comment as there were "serious attempts to smear Amafa's good name".
"SAHRA is the one that has tampered with the grave site."
Meanwhile, Durban-based Professor Musa Xulu, a heritage researcher, said the descendants of Queen Nandi felt aggrieved about what had happened to the grave site. "The Mhlongos of the House of Nxazonke want to know why Amafa went in with bulldozers to remove the grave. They feel her spirit has been disturbed."