Johannesburg - Some of the 15 Mandelas who pleaded indigence in order to claim legal aid to fund their case against Mandla Mandela own homes worth millions and drive flashy cars.
It emerged this week that Rhodes University funded their case because it regarded some of the applicants to be indigent.
The Mandelas recently took Mandla Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s grandson) to court over the relocation of the former president’s three children’s graves from Mvezo to Qunu.
An investigation by The Star has found that the first applicant, Makaziwe, who is Mandela’s eldest daughter, lives in a house in Hyde Park, Sandton, and, according to the current municipal evaluation, the place is worth R13.6m.
She bought the house in 2004 for R3.4m.
Her daughter Tukwini, who is also listed as an applicant, bought a house worth R1.7m in 2009 in Morningside and drives an Audi A4.
Nandi Mandela, a co-applicant in the case, drives a Jaguar and has four other vehicles registered under her name.
She owns two properties in KwaZulu-Natal. One is worth R2.1m and the other R1.2m - both registered under a trust.
Zenani Dlamini-Mandela lives in an upmarket estate in the Vianden complex in West Road South, Morningside. The current municipal valuation for the units ranges from R2.85m to R5.5m.
She drives a Mercedes-Benz, a BMW 7 series and three other cars.
Zenani, Mandela’s daughter by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has been ambassador to Argentina since last July.
Zindzi, another of Winnie’s daughters, owns a house in Houghton Estate, which was bought in July 2000 for R2m. According to the current municipal evaluation, the home is now worth R5.2m.
Zindzi also owns another house in Observatory, bought in May 1994 for R400 000. That house is worth R1.9m in the current municipal evaluation.
The two houses are registered under a trust.
Speaking to The Star on Tuesday, Rhodes University director of special projects Susan Smailes said the institution had applied the means test stipulated by Legal Aid SA. “The law clinic has to comply with that,” she said.
“An objective of the Rhodes University Law Clinic is to provide free legal advice and services to people who are deemed to be indigent. Indigence is assessed on an individual basis and not a family or group basis,” read the statement.
The Mandelas were represented by Wesley Hayes, director of the Queenstown Rural Legal Centre, which is an office of the Rhodes University Law Clinic. In addition, he is the deputy director of the Rhodes University Law Clinic.
A legal expert, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, slammed the Rhodes Law Clinic for giving funding to the Mandelas, saying the clinic had exceeded its mandate and the reasons given for funding the Mandelas were “spurious and disingenuous”.
“You only have to look at the applicants - no one in their right minds can give them funding,” Ntsebeza said.
The only basis, in his opinion, that the Mandelas were funded by the law clinic could be because it was going to be representing high-profile people.
When The Star contacted Ndileka, a Mandela granddaughter and a protagonist in the graves case, she said: “I’m not willing to comment on the story. I won’t comment now and I won’t comment in the future.”
Nandi also declined to comment.
Efforts to get comments from Makaziwe and Tukwini proved fruitless.