Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela’s children have launched a major assault against prominent South Africans known to be directors in two companies worth millions.
As the nation prays for the ailing former president to get well, The Star can reveal that Mandela’s daughters Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela, supported by Mandela’s grandchildren, have made a court application to have advocate George Bizos, businessman Tokyo Sexwale and lawyer Bally Chuene removed from Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings.
The companies, according to court documents and a source, were established by Mandela’s former lawyer, Ismail Ayob.
Their main purpose was to channel “proceeds of Madiba’s handprints” into the accounts of the companies for Mandela and his children’s benefit.
The proceeds are estimated at more than R15 million. The handprints have been a subject of controversy involving businessman Ross Calder, Ayob and many others over who holds the rights to sell them.
Makaziwe and Zenani claim that Bizos, Sexwale and Chuene were never appointed by Mandela as major shareholders or directors, court papers say.
In their application before the Johannesburg High Court on Monday, the pair argued that Bizos and Chuene were not properly appointed and should thus be removed.
Makaziwe says in her affidavit: “All three – Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale – were invited to resign as directors, which invitation they declined. Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale were not formally appointed by the shareholder (Mandela) of the companies by way of any resolution.
“Neither Zenani nor I, in our capacity as directors or in any other capacity, have ever received any notice to pass a resolution appointing, or have ever appointed, advocate Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale directors of Magnifique or Harmonieux.”
She added that the trio had been appointed after the filing of relevant forms with the companies registry.
Makaziwe added that the three did not enjoy the support of “almost all” of Mandela’s children and grandchildren.
“The continual refusal of Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale to resign is not in the best interest of beneficiaries of the shareholder (Mandela’s children and grandchildren).
“There are also allegations that Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale – including Judge Clement Temba Sangoni – failed to carry out their duties as directors with due care, skill and diligence,” the court papers read.
The beneficiaries – including Zindzi Mandela, and grandchildren Chief Zwelivelile (Mandla Mandela), Mbuso, Ndileka, controversial businessman Zondwa Mandela, Ndaba, Bambata and Zoleka Mandela – made sworn affidavits supporting Zenani’s and Makaziwe’s application.
Bizos said the allegations were completely false. The two women (Zenani and Makaziwe) “wanted to get their hands on things that should not be sold and the money in the companies”.
He added: “There is no basis to the allegations. We are not hijackers. We don’t hijack things.
“The public should ask themselves why five years later these allegations are being laid. We are confident we were regularly appointed at the wish of Mr Mandela five years ago.”
Bizos said Makaziwe and Zenani had brought the court application “in order to further their interests and get their hands on the money”.
They were going to challenge the court application, Bizos said, and their attorneys were currently preparing their response.
He would not be drawn into divulging how much was involved, saying: “We will give that information to the court. It is a private matter.”
Sexwale agreed with Bizos, but Chuene said he would be able to comment only once he had seen the court documents. His cellphone was on voicemail when he was contacted again.
In the court papers, Makaziwe and Zenani launch scathing attacks on the three – particularly Chuene, alleging that he was “criminally conducting himself” when he allegedly appointed himself as director of companies.
Makaziwe says her lawyer wrote to Chuene on August 12 last year to call upon him to resign, but he failed to do so.
“Chuene appears to be making a habit of serially appointing himself (and others) unlawfully, as directors of companies, where he has no authority whatsoever. Such conduct borders on criminal conduct, but such conduct does not appear to deter him at all.”
Makaziwe says there were two instances when Chuene appointed himself as a director.
She alleges that Chuene had admitted in the 2005 case which Mandela lodged against Ayob that he had personally gone to the registrar of companies and registered himself as director of Harmonieux and Magnifique.
“As is evident, Chuene does not hesitate to mislead the court by conveniently suppressing the fact that he also at the same time attended to the unlawful appointment of himself, Adv Bizos, William Henry Trengove and Dikgang Ernest Moseneke as directors of a company which is the registered owner of Zenani’s home, the shares of which are owned by a private trust for the benefit of herself and her immediate family, as well as a company which is beneficially owned by Zenani’s attorney of record (Ismail Ayob),” Makaziwe alleges in her affidavit.
She claims Bizos was “quite happy to participate in this unlawful conduct, as is evident from his acceptance of the sham directorship” in the two disputed companies.
Makaziwe and Zenani say they also made a formal request to Sexwale to resign, but he had failed to do so.
They claim that their lawyer had tried to organise private meetings with the minister of human settlements to avoid embarrassing him, but he had not co-operated.
The sisters are asking the High Court to remove the three as directors.
Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said he was not aware of the court application.