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Nelson Mandela's kin are at war over his fortunes

He was a celebrated symbol of peace and democracy the world over. But in the last years of his life, Nelson Mandela’s own family has been at war, bickering between themselves over his many millions and his final resting place. And in the wake of the anti-apartheid leader's death at 95 yesterday, it is feared his surviving family will be plunged in to deep rifts over who stands to gain his fortune.


Nelson Mandela, centre, is surrounded by his grandchildren many of whom supported a legal bid to gain control of a Mandela art merchandise company at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape, on his 90th birthday. File pic/AFP

The legendary former president of South Africa was married three times and fathered six children, only three of whom daughters Makaziwe, Zenani, and Zindzi are still alive. His daughter Makaziwe, from his first marriage, and Zenani, from his second marriage, have reportedly already become embroiled in a legal battle over the control of a trust fund worth an estimated $1.6 million.

Mandela’s third daughter, Zindzi, is not involved in the court action. The money was placed in the fund by Mandela in 2005 to be distributed to his daughters only in the event of hardship. Makaziwe and Zenani are demanding access to the fund and have begun legal action against the trust’s two directors: 84-year-old lawyer George Bizos, who defended Mandela in a 1963 trial, and 60-year-old Tokyo Sexwale, who was a prisoner alongside Mandela on Robben Island.

Makaziwe and Zenani allege the trust was intended for them and Bizos and Sexwale “hijacked” it. Makaziwe and Zenani are also involved in a separate legal battle against the pair and another lawyer, Bally Chuene all directors of companies whose main purpose was to channel funds from the sale of artwork.

The two daughters claim Bizos, Sexwale, and Chuene were never appointed by Mandela as major shareholders or directors. Bizos claims the allegations are false. Mandela is believed to have accumulated a fortune of about $16 million, and the family is active in more than 110 trading companies. Makaziwe has denied any exploitation by the family, reportedly saying: “Every child in this family who wants to use the Mandela name has a right to do, so as long as they do so with honor and integrity and upholding the values of my father.”

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