Dispute over Mandela's millions deepens

JOHANNESBURG - A granddaughter of Nelson Mandela has harshly criticised a longtime associate of the former president in an escalation of a dispute over funds linked to one of the world’s most revered figures.

Tukwini Mandela accused lawyer George Bizos of insulting her mother, slandering the Mandela family name and spreading “blatant lies and innuendo” in a bitter rift over control of two companies linked to 94-year-old Mandela.

The main purpose of the companies is to channel funds from the sale of handprint artwork by Mandela for the benefit of his family.

“Please have the decency to behave as an elder if you care for my grandfather and his name, which catapulted you into undeserved stardom,” Tukwini wrote in an open letter that was e-mailed to the Associated Press on Tuesday.

She urged Bizos, a stalwart of the struggle for equal rights in South Africa, to act in a manner “befitting of your status” in society.

The disagreement comes as Mandela receives medical care at his Johannesburg home after several hospital visits in recent months.

Makaziwe Mandela, Tukwini’s mother, and Makaziwe’s sister Zenani have launched a court case against Bizos and two other associates of Mandela — lawyer Bally Chuene and minister Tokyo Sexwale — alleging they should not remain directors of Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings because they were not properly appointed.

Earlier this week, The Star newspaper quoted 84-year-old Bizos as saying Makaziwe’s goal was to take some company money, estimated to be $1,3 million (R12 million), without providing details of how it would be used.

“This woman wanted to take over the money, not for any specific purpose, and distribute it to members of the family,” he said.

Bizos defended Mandela during the Rivonia trial in the 1960s that led to the ANC leader’s conviction on sabotage charges and a sentence of life imprisonment.

Tukwini is the marketing director of House of Mandela, a wine-making company. — Sowetan

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