In a move that promises to destabilise an already strained family, Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was reported on Wednesday as intending to challenge the will that was left by her late ex-husband and make a legal claim for the former statesman’s ancestral home.
According to reports, Winnie says she intends to file for the ownership of the Mandela Qunu home. Her reasons are that she bought the home in the late 1980s when Nelson Mandela was still in prison on Robben Island. Mrs Madikizela-Mandela feels that, according to traditional law, she is entitled to the home.
Nelson Mandela left the home and most of his R42 million estate to a number of schools, his former staff, the African National Congress, his family trust and also to his latest wife, Graca Machel whom he married in 1998. His homes around the country were also left to the family trust with clear instructions as to who could live in them. Madikizela-Mandela is reported to have come away from the reading of the will with nothing to her name. Mrs Machel, who would have benefitted from the will, waived her right to the properties in the Mandela will and instead took up the four properties the couple jointly owned in her country of origin, Mozambique.
The 77-year old member of the ruling ANC women’s league was divorced by the former leader of the ruling party amid claims of infidelity and abuse of power in the 1990s. A firebrand in her own right, Winnie Mandela attracted much attention in the mid-1980s when some of her supporters used to necklace enemies, a method whereby those accused of being informers were burnt to death using tyres and petrol. She furiously fought her divorce and only managed to retain the Mandela name, which she uses together with her maiden Madikizela surname.
According to a letter from her lawyer, MvuzoNotyesi, Winnie argues that the family home in Qunu should be given to her two daughters, Zindzi and Zenani. The lawyer further adds that it is only in this home that the two daughters and their children can conduct their own customs and traditions. Advocate Notyesi also revealed that deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who acted as executor of Nelson Mandela’s will had acknowledged that he had received the letter but had not volunteered any more information.
This furore comes in the wake of many more feuds within the Mandela family from the time when he was still alive, through his hospitalisation, to his death and even after his burial.
It appears that the biggest camps in the Mandela conflict are the ones led by Mandela’s daughter, Makaziwe on the one hand and his oldest male heir and grandson, Mandla. In the most culturally damaging episode between the two parties, Mandla went and exhumed the bodies of three of Mandela’s children from Qunu to bury them in Mvezo. In her turn, Makaziwe sought and obtained a court order to re-exhume them and rebury them in Qunu. Furthermore, just after the burial of Tata Madiba, it was reported that Makaziwe had changed all the locks to the house in Qunu as a way of keeping Mandla and his followers away. She further wrote a letter to Mandla to remove his dogs from the property.