Mthatha - Winnie Madikizela-Mandela should have approached the elders in the AbaThembu before launching a claim on the estate of former president Nelson Mandela, the AbaThembu clan said on Friday.
“It would be appropriate if Nkosikazi Winnie Madikizela-Mandela thought of approaching the elders before circulating her interest in the media,” said royal spokesman Daludumo Mtirara.
“She would be properly informed of the custom of AbaThembu and, in the meantime, Nkosikazi Nosizwe (Graca Machel - Mandela's widow) is our point of entry in the Mandela house regarding any matter.
Madikizela-Mandela is challenging Mandela's estate and is seeking the rights to his home in Qunu, Eastern Cape.
Madikizela-Mandela's lawyer Mvuyo Notyesi reportedly wrote to deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, a co-executor of the will, two weeks ago.
In the letter Notyesi argued that AbaThembu custom dictated that the rights to the property go to Madikizela-Mandela and her descendants.
“This position becomes applicable irrespective of whether the wife was divorced or not,” Notyesi was quoted as writing.
“It is only in this home that the children and grandchildren of Mrs Madikizela-Mandela can conduct their own customs and tradition...”
Supporting affidavits would be filed from AbaThembu elders and King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, among others.
It was not an attack on his will, but an assertion of customary and traditional rights, the letter said.
Mtirara said Madikizela-Mandela had no claim over Mandela's estate.
“Because of the fact that the site (land) was only dedicated to Nkosi Dalibhunga (Mandela) in person as the head of the Mandela house, divorce marked the end of Nkosikazi Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as the member of the Mandela house.”
Mtirara said the land in Qunu on which the house was built was allocated to former president Mandela as a sign of appreciation of the role the statesman had played during the liberation struggle.
“The land was neither sold to him nor his former wife, Nkosikazi Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Some of the family members were part of the delegation during the demarcation process in Qunu,” he said.
“Nkosi Dalibhunga (Mandela) developed the site while he was still serving the people of South Africa on a full-time basis. We linked that site to him because it had nothing to do with his former wife at the time.”
According to the AbaThembu custom, after a divorce, a former wife can claim a stake that belongs to their former husband in the name of their children, a son in particular and not daughters and grandchildren from their daughters, he said.
“Her (Madikizela-Mandela) current situation does not allow her to claim in the name of her son, who should be the heir in her former house.
“Daughters belong to their in-laws and those that are unmarried would be allowed to stay and practise our culture, including their children if so required.”
Madikizela-Mandela, however, is allowed to join the family during rituals and cultural practices.
Mtirara accused Dalindyebo of creating confusion and division within the AbaThembu royals.
“We are quite aware that Zwelibanzi Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has a potential of dividing families and we would like to warn him that his family is quite clear about his unreasonable disrupting tactics,” he said.
Madikizela-Mandela, Mandela's second wife for 38 years, was left out of Mandela's will, which was released in February following his death on December 5 last year.