South African authorities rescue 'starving' cows from home of late Nelson Mandela

The provincial government has stepped in to save dozens of starving cattle at the rural South African home of Nelson Mandela, the late anti-apartheid hero, a Sunday newspaper reported.

The Eastern Cape provincial government last Friday delivered livestock feed for nearly 100 oxen that belong to the family of Mandela, South Africa's first black president, the Sunday Times reported.

This was after one of the 97 cows had died of starvation, it said.

A winter drought in the region has left the conditions at the modest family compound in Mandela's childhood village of Qunu "extremely difficult", farm manager Siyakudumisa Gabada, was quoted as saying.

He said the cattle had lost weight and were in a "terrible state".

A regional minister for agrarian affairs, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, visited the farm on Friday and described the state of some of the cattle as "concerning".

"The available feed and water on this farm is quite critical at the moment," he was quoted as saying.

Mandela, who grew up helping herd the family's cattle and sheep, wrote in his will: "It is my wish that the farming operations in Qunu... continue after my death."

He died aged 95 in December last year.

AFP could not reach any of the Mandela family members for comment but the anti-apartheid hero's oldest grandson Mandla Mandela admitted to the newspaper that the conditions at the farm were not satisfactory.

He said the family was trying to resolve the problems.