By BONGANI NKOSI, IOL, 11/06/2017
Johannesburg – The battle for Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu village in the Eastern Cape is far from over, with his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela set to take the fight over the ownership of his rural home to the Supreme Court of Appeal on November 20.
Madikizela-Mandela has filed papers in the SCA, arguing that a court erred in ruling that she could have reasonably known from 1997 that the property was registered in Madiba’s name.
The head of the Mandela clan, Chief Mandla Mandela, on Sunday threw his support behind the executors of Madiba’s estate, who are expected to oppose Madikizela-Mandela’s attempt to take over Qunu – the place where Mandela is buried.
The executors of the Mandela estate are primary respondents in the litigation.
“The matter is simple As you know, the executors of the estate are advocate George Bizos, retired judge Dikgang Moseneke and Judge Themba Sangoni. As the family, we believe the matter is in reliable hands,” Mandla told The Star on Sunday.
Bizos, who is one of the executors of Mandela’s will, last year slammed Madikizela-Mandela for seeking the rights to his home at Qunu.
He said they would oppose her claim as she did nothing for 17 years after the property was registered in Mandela’s name.
“The will did not provide in any way for her; she must be disappointed Their divorce was legal,” he said at the time.
However, in the fresh court application, Madikizela-Mandela’s heads of argument largely take aim at the judgment by the full bench of the Mthatha High Court, delivered in April last year, which dismissed her application to review the registration of the property under Mandela.
She argued at the time that the property belonged to her, and not Madiba.
In his will, the late president bequeathed the Qunu property and its movable assets to his family and his wife Graça Machel, as well as her two children Malengane Machel and Josina Machel.
However, Madikizela-Mandela disputed this, insisting the property was built on a site allocated to her in 1989. Her affidavit said there was a “wealth of evidence” and eyewitnesses to attest that the land belonged to her.
Madikizela-Mandela is now appealing the dismissal of her review application in the SCA. She maintains the Mthatha High Court erred in ruling against her on the grounds that she brought her application 17 years after the registration of the home.
Madikizela-Mandela had dragged the executors of Mandela’s estate to court in the matter. In its ruling, the bench said: “Should the delay be condoned? The period of the delay was excessive and not satisfactorily explained.
“Because of the delay, they were unable to present the evidence of a material witness, namely Mr Mandela. At no time during the lifetime of Mr Mandela did Mrs Mandela lay claim to the property.”
In her new affidavit submitted to the SCA, Madikizela-Mandela hits back, maintaining that she could not have known over the years that Mandela, who divorced her in 1996, had registered the property in his name.
“There are more than 600 households at Qunu and none have a deed of grant or title deed,” said her papers.
“There was neither publication nor gazetting done prior to the registration of the deed of grant in favour of the late Mandela.”
The papers add that she had “no reason to believe that there was an attempt afoot to strip her of the land allocated to her” by Qunu chiefs.
“Even after the civil divorce, Mrs Mandela continued to treat Qunu as her home. She performs rituals and traditions for her children and her grandchildren at the home.
“There was never any suggestion that ownership of the Qunu property had changed or that she was no longer welcome at Qunu,” the 56-page affidavit stated.
On Sunday, Bizos said the executors would oppose Madikizela-Mandela’s appeal application.
“Yes, we’re opposing (it) The court already knows about this (intention).”
Mandela died on December 5, 2013 and Madikizela-Mandela maintains that she found out only on July 18, 2014 that the property was registered in Mandela’s name and that it was part of his will.
The house on the site was built by Mandela between 1993 and 1995. It is a replica of the house he occupied at Victor Verster Prison in Paarl in the Western Cape.