Traditionalists back Winnie in fight for Mandela Qunu home

Tuesday March 1 2016

The ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela Madikizela (left), and his widow Graca Machel wipe their tears upon the arrival Nelson Mandela's remains at an airport in Mthatha on December 14, 2013. Ms Madikizela-Mandela is expected to fight tooth and nail with the executors of Mandela’s estate in the Mthatha High Court. PHOTO | AFP

The ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela-Madikizela (left), and his widow Graca Machel wipe their tears upon the arrival Nelson Mandela's remains at an airport in Mthatha on December 14, 2013. Ms Madikizela-Mandela is expected to fight tooth and nail with the executors of Mandela’s estate in the Mthatha High Court. PHOTO | AFP 

By NATION CORRESPONDENT
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PRETORIA

The ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, returned to court Monday challenging the estate of her former husband as she seeks the rights to his home in his birthplace Qunu.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela is expected to fight tooth and nail with the executors of Mandela’s estate in the Mthatha High Court.

Her legal team is expected to table arguments to a full bench of judges led by the Judge President of Limpopo Ephraim Mokgobo and two judges from the North Gauteng High Court and KwaZulu-Natal.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela argues that in terms of customary law marriage, she is the legitimate owner of Mr Mandela’s Qunu home.

The former statesman’s Will allocated the house to his third wife Graça Machel, but to be used as a family home.

She wants the court to declare the registration of the property in Mandela’s name null and void, arguing she had personally acquired the land.

She has previously said her former husband should never have given the Qunu property to his third wife Graça Machel as she owns the “whole world in Mozambique”.

Ms Machel was married to former Mozambique President Samora Machel before her union with Mandela.

According to traditionalists in South Africa, the custom is such that when a man re-marries he is forced to leave his former wife and the children on the property they owned together.

One such traditionalist, Dr Nokuzola Mdende, said: “This is so strange because when Madiba (clan name of Mandela) married Winnie he never took her to the house of the first wife, but to the house they owned together.

‘‘It is so strange and unfortunate that Winnie is getting this treatment and being told that her house be controlled by a junior wife”. 

The matter has attracted a lot of public interest and hordes of local journalists are expected flock to Mthatha to cover the story.

Mr Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, the convicted king of the Abathembu, under which the Mandela clan belongs, is a key witness in the case.

LEFT IN THE COLD

King Dalindyebo is serving a 12-year jail term for fraud and attempted murder and it remains unclear how the matter will continue with him in prison.

He was part of the team that gave the site to the Mandela family.

Mr Mvuzo Notyesi, the lawyer representing Madikizela-Mandela, said his client was challenging the will in relation to her ex-husband’s Qunu house.

Mr Notyesi said that papers were initially filed during October 2014.

In his last will and testament, Mandela left the Qunu property to all members of the Mandela family as a place to unify them.

Madikizela-Mandela was left out of his will, which was released in February 2014 after his death on December 5, 2013.

Mr Mandela died aged 95. His family gathered behind closed doors at his foundation in Johannesburg to hear the reading of the will.

The will, first written in 2004 and last amended in 2008, has always been seen as a potential flashpoint.

One executor, Dikgang Moseneke, the deputy chief justice of South Africa’s constitutional court, said the reading of the will to the family had been “charged with emotion” but no one had yet contested it. “There were clarifications sought from time to time,” he added.

ACCEPT AND MOVE ON

Mandela’s children each received $300,000 (Sh6m) in loans during his lifetime and will have that debt scrapped if it has not been repaid, according to a 40-page summary of the will.

His eldest grandson, Mandla, who has had several brushes with the law, receives $300,000 but only if approved by a family trust, whereas some of the other grandchildren will have their inheritances paid directly.

However, Mandela’s eldest granddaughter, Ndileka, also receives nothing now because of a previous loan.

“The only reaction you can have is to accept the content of the will,” she said. “It’s the last testament of a person who died. There’s no disappointment. It is what it is.”