Qunu’s chief says Win­nie Madik­izela Man­dela has no claim to the land on which Nel­son Man­dela’s grave is lo­cated. The mat­ter heads to court this week

CityPress - - Front Page - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­

Nel­son Man­dela’s vil­lage chief says if Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela is fight­ing for his Qunu home be­cause she wants con­trol of the for­mer pres­i­dent’s grave, she is mis­taken. His ex-wife has no say over the land on which he is buried, she says. Qunu chief Nkosikazi Nok­wanele Bal­izulu, who lives across the N2 high­way from the late Madiba’s home, says “a small piece of the land” that forms part of Man­dela’s prop­erty was given to Madik­izela Man­dela while Man­dela was still in pri­son, but he was not buried on it.

Bal­izulu is listed in papers be­fore the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) as one of those who sup­port Madik­izela-Man­dela’s claim to the prop­erty that Man­dela be­queathed to the Nel­son Rolih­lahla Man­dela Fam­ily Trust for the use of his widow, Graca Machel, and the rest of the Man­dela fam­ily.

But in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with City Press this week, Bal­izulu pre­sented a more neu­tral po­si­tion in the bat­tle for Qunu. The mat­ter heads to court this week with a string of se­nior coun­sel, in­clud­ing cel­e­brated ad­vo­cate Tem­beka Ngcukaitobi, pre­sent­ing ar­gu­ments be­fore a full bench of jus­tices.

Bal­izulu said her late hus­band’s twin brother, Dalilanga, had de­mar­cated a small piece of land un­der Madik­izela-Man­dela’s name “some­where be­tween 1988 or 1989”. She re­called how Madik­izela-Man­dela ar­rived in the vil­lage in a he­li­copter when the site de­mar­ca­tion took place. On that land, she in­sists, lies the first struc­ture built on the prop­erty – a replica of the house Man­dela lived in at Vic­tor Ver­ster pri­son.

How­ever, Bal­izulu said she later per­son­ally ex­tended the site un­der Man­dela’s name when she be­came re­gent chief in 1996, de­mar­cat­ing more land to the then pres­i­dent. It is on this por­tion that Man­dela’s main house, farm and grave are sit­u­ated.

“This is why I am say­ing if mama Win­nie is claim­ing the area where Tata’s grave is sit­u­ated as well, then she is wrong be­cause she has no claim to that piece of land what­so­ever.

“I am the one who gave that land to uTata and I would be ly­ing if I said she has any claim. And I know the land which was given to her orig­i­nally by the brother of my late hus­band be­cause I was here, and it does not in­clude the area where uTata is buried or where his main house is built. That is the truth,” she said, point­ing at Man­dela’s prop­erty from her vil­lage spaza shop.

Last year, Madik­izela-Man­dela took her fight to the Mthatha High Court to seek a re­view and set­ting aside of a de­ci­sion taken in 1997 by then land af­fairs min­is­ter, Derek Hanekom, that the prop­erty be­longed to her for­mer hus­band. Af­ter the court dis­missed the ap­pli­ca­tion and re­fused her leave to ap­peal, Madik­izela-Man­dela pe­ti­tioned the SCA di­rectly. It granted her leave to ap­peal.

In the case be­fore the high court, the ex­ecu­tors of the es­tate question why Madik­izela-Man­dela waited 17 years be­fore lodg­ing her ap­pli­ca­tion, a con­tention the court agreed with when dis­miss­ing her claim. But in court papers be­fore the SCA, Madik­izela-Man­dela ar­gues that the find­ing of un­due de­lay was “er­ro­neous”.

In her heads of ar­gu­ment, Madik­izela-Man­dela – rep­re­sented by Pa­tric Mt­shaulana SC, Kameshni Pil­lay SC and Nyoko Mu­van­gua – ar­gues that the high court erred and in­cor­rectly ap­plied the facts on two is­sues. These are whether she was pre­vented from ac­cess­ing the dis­puted land af­ter her di­vorce from Man­dela and whether she could have rea­son­ably known at that time that the land had been given to Man­dela.

But in their papers, the ex­ecu­tors of Man­dela’s es­tate – rep­re­sented by Vin­cent Maleka SC and Ngcukaitobi – dis­pute Madik­izela-Man­dela’s ver­sion of events. They say that, at a meet­ing, Qunu res­i­dents con­sented to the site’s do­na­tion to Madiba and that abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo de­mar­cated it in Bal­izulu’s pres­ence. They say they have the of­fi­cial doc­u­ments to prove it.

Bal­izulu told City Press this week that she be­lieved Man­dela’s grave, which could be made ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic next year, was the ul­ti­mate prize in this fight be­cause it would at­tract tourists and “re­sult in fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit for some”.

How­ever, she re­called how she had asked Dalindyebo to step in when Qunu res­i­dents com­plained about her giv­ing Madiba such a large tract of land.

“The king came and in­ter­vened in that sit­u­a­tion and even de­mar­cated a big­ger area for uTata than the one I had ear­marked,” she said.

She blamed the abaThembu el­ders for fu­elling the dis­pute, say­ing they el­e­vated the long-di­vorced Madik­izela-Man­dela’s sta­tus when Man­dela died, recog­nis­ing her, at least tra­di­tion­ally, as his wife. She and Machel sat on the widow’s mat­tress and she was made to per­form izila, an abaThembu mourn­ing rit­ual for a griev­ing widow.

“When they did all of that they were say­ing to mama Win­nie: ‘This was your hus­band.’ No won­der she sees the need to make these claims. These el­ders must take the blame be­cause they are the ones who el­e­vated the sta­tus of a wife who has been di­vorced.”

Bal­izulu said the is­sue had be­come so volatile and sen­si­tive that Qunu res­i­dents had been bul­lied not to speak about the mat­ter, but she would not say by whom.

In Qunu on Wed­nes­day, vil­lagers did not want to com­ment. The few who did, did not want their names men­tioned.

Asked who they thought should be given the prop­erty, five out of six sided with Madik­izela Man­dela. They said they be­lieved the site was un­der her name and that she was the el­der wife.

One vil­lager who sided with Man­dela’s ex­ecu­tors said Machel should have the house be­cause she was mar­ried to Madiba when he died and he left the prop­erty to her.

Madik­izela-Man­dela’s lawyer, Mvuzo No­tyesi, de­clined to com­ment.

TALK TO US Who is right in this dis­pute? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word MAN­DELA and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50


Graça Machel and Win­nie Madik­ize­laMan­dela at Mthatha Air­port


Qunu chief Nkosikazi Nok­wanele Bal­izulu

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