Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla has threatened to take his aunts to court for allegedly dragging him into the family’s artwork saga.
The artworks, worth millions, belong to the ailing icon.
On Monday, Mandela’s daughters, Makaziwe and Zenani, filed papers asking the court to remove the names of advocate George Bizos, lawyer Bally Chuene and businessman Tokyo Sexwale as directors of Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings.
Makaziwe and Zenani stated in their court papers that the three were not legitimately appointed as directors.
The sisters said the three were appointed in 2005 as directors, but that Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale had nothing to prove their legitimacy.
Makaziwe and Zenani also claimed in their court papers that Mandla was among Mandela’s 17 beneficiaries who supported their court action.
Mandla denied the claim on Thursday.
He said the power of attorney signed off in his capacity as Nkosi Zwelivelile related to a different matter that involved the business interests of his deceased father Makgatho.
He told The Star that “at no point have I ever sat with Ismail Ayob alone or in a family meeting to instruct him to initiate legal proceedings against all the individuals mentioned in the papers. I consider it an insult any suggestion that I can go to court to fight over my grandfather’s monies.”
Mandla said he was in the process of “taking legal advice on how to get his name removed from the purported court application”.
But according to documents seen by The Star, Mandla had signed off power of attorney, which allowed attorney Ayob to act on behalf of his aunts.
Mandla’s approval - which forms part of the court action - is dated May 30 last year.
The court documents seem to indicate he had provided his cellphone numbers, home address and email address.
Mandla appears to have also initialled each page of the power of attorney document.
Two witnesses have also attached their signatures to the documents.
The power of attorney document allowed Ayob to argue in court that Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale were not properly appointed to be Magnifique and Harmonieux Investment directors. The companies are at the centre of the legal battle.
Both Makaziwe’s children, Dumani and Tukwini, confirmed they were supporting the court application to have Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale removed as directors.
Tukwini said: “That’s in the court papers. It’s in black and white.”
Dumani said: “I support the court application.”
This makes Mandla, who is Makaziwe’s biological nephew, the only grandchild so far, who has distanced himself from the application.
Ayob said he was surprised by Mandla’s about-turn.
“I sent him the court papers, including all the other grandchildren, shortly after I issued the court application,” he said.
Ayob said Mandla came to his office last year and signed all the documents.
“There were other people in my office when he signed,” Ayob added.
But Ayob said Mandla “has got the right to go to court... but I know he signed the documents”.
The two companies, Magnifique and Harmonieux, according to court documents and a source, were established by Ayob, Mandela’s former lawyer.
Their main purpose was to channel the “proceeds of Madiba’s handprints” into the companies’ accounts for Mandela and his children’s benefit.
The proceeds are estimated at more than R15-million.
The power of attorney that was signed by all the beneficiaries involved gave legal powers to Ayob also to deal with the affairs of the Nelson Rolihlahla Family Trust, the Nelson Mandela Trust and the Mandela Trust.
It is not clear how much the trusts are worth, but according to court documents from a previous case (separate to this one), the Nelson Mandela Trust, which was created in July 2002, had received about R18.5-million from donors over a period of 18 months.
Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale have vehemently denied they had hijacked the directorships of the two companies that have become the centre of a court battle.
They have indicated they intended to challenge the court application. - The Star