A planned meeting of the AbaThembu royal family at Nelson Mandela’s Qunu home this week is likely to end in bloodshed, dragging the former president’s name through the mud.
This is the claim Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, makes in papers filed in the High Court in Mthatha on Wednesday in an effort to stop the meeting, scheduled to take place on Friday.
The community meeting was called by Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela and Daludumo Mtirara, the controversial and disputed Mandela family spokesman, and is to be attended by various members of the AbaThembu royal family.
Mandla is cited as the first respondent in the case, with Mtirara – a close Mandla ally – the second respondent.
The meeting, which is to be held on the property that holds Mandela’s grave, was called to discuss Madikizela-Mandela’s claim to the property. The legal fight is one of the factors preventing Mandela’s estate from being wound up.
In October, Madikizela-Mandela challenged Mandela’s will, which left the property to his family trust, which would administer it for the “benefit of the Mandela family and my third wife [Graça Machel] and her two children”.
Madikizela-Mandela claimed the property was hers and, therefore, Mandela could not leave it to anyone else.
The meeting will also deal with the sensitive issue of the rightful head of the Mandela family. Recent reports indicated that there was a tussle between Mandla and his younger brother Ndaba over who should have taken over as family leader after Mandela’s death.
In her 12-page affidavit, Madikizela-Mandela slates Mandla and Mtirara, saying “both of them have no right to convene meetings in my property or in a property that is [the] subject of litigation”.
Some of the family’s dirty laundry is aired in the papers, with Madikizela-Mandela taking umbrage at the fact that Mandla had got involved in the saga over the ownership of the property.
“[Mandla] in his own version and actions, he distanced himself from the Qunu home when he, under clandestine circumstances, removed graves from Qunu and put them at his place in Mvezo. This court will notice from the nature of the averments [allegations] he made that he has nothing to do with the Qunu home,” says Madikizela-Mandela.
She further describes the meeting as an “illegal gathering”, and cites concern about the potential for violence given the tension in the family and the AbaThembu household.
“… Should the meeting continue, violence is likely to erupt and thereby tarnish the good name of both myself and the late Mr Nelson Mandela. More harm will be caused if the meeting is allowed to proceed. There is a likelihood that … a fight among those meeting will ensue, resulting in bloodshed and chaos. The name of Mandela is being dragged through the mud.
“Thousands of people have been invited to the aforesaid illegal gathering and no measures have been put in place for the protection of the property and human life.
“Should the meeting go ahead with violence [erupting], the Mandela family will be embarrassed and shamed.
“In view of these reasonable fears, the meeting needs to be urgently stopped.”
Madikizela-Mandela says she tried to have the meeting called off but was unsuccessful, and decided to take the matter to court.
Mandla did not return a text message seeking comment.
The case is set for argument on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Mthatha court.
Billy Gundelfinger, who is representing Mandla, confirmed yesterday that he would oppose the matter.
Another of Mandla’s lawyers, Kholisile Mabanga, would not provide details of their response. “We are still busy drawing up the papers, so I can’t talk about it,” he said yesterday.
AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s spokesman, Mfundo Mtirara, said the king was backing Madikizela-Mandela’s court case.
“We are supporting her and will be in court. We believe that, according to our culture, that house belongs to her.”TimesLive