886 Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela leaves the Randburg Magistrate's court where he appeared on a drunk driving charge. The charges against him were withdrawn. 290911 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Nelson Mandela’s controversial grandson Zondwa Mandela has run into trouble with financial services giant Investec, allegedly refusing to pay the bank for his luxury Mercedes Benz – or to hand it over to the bank’s recovery department.

This emerged after Investec hired private investigations firm, The Sequestrator, to find Mandela and the vehicle, a 2008 model Mercedes Benz S320 CDI worth R669 000.

But investigator Howard Blumenfeld apparently got the run-around from Mandela to such an extent the he still doesn’t know where he lives, nor the car’s location, after nearly a year.

A sheriff is said to have visited the home of even Nelson Mandela in Houghton, and another belonging to Zondwa’s grandmother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, in an effort to find the car.

Zondwa Mandela is already embroiled in a massive mining scandal alongside the nephew of President Jacob Zuma, Khulubuse Zuma. As the bosses of Aurora Empowerment Systems, they are accused of destroying the infrastructure of two mines in Gauteng, resulting in 5 300 workers losing their jobs.

Zondwa, 28, is one of Mandela’s 17 grandchildren. He is alleged to have bought the Mercedes in 2010, but stopped paying the instalments.

Investec Private Bank head of risk and recovery Howard Tradonsky, confirmed that Investec obtained a judgment and attachment order for the return of the vehicle in October.

“He may have paid a few instalments in the beginning,” Tradonsky said, denying that Zondwa had received preferential treatment.

“Obviously when it’s a high-profile person, one is careful to be sensitive. But we try to be sensitive to all our clients. We’re not dealing with Mr Mandela any differently from other debtors who are unwilling or unable to pay.”

Blumenfeld said his investigations had revealed that Zondwa was living in his grandfather’s Houghton home, which the sheriff of the court had visited. “But that house was empty, and had been for 18 months,” he said.

Then someone reported seeing Zondwa staying with his grandmother, Winnie. “The sheriff went there and couldn’t find the vehicle. He left a note for [Zondwa] to contact the sheriff, but he never did.”

Blumenfeld added that they had no address at which to serve the summons because no one appeared to know where he was.

However, Blumenfeld said he was in telephonic contact with Zondwa, and had even met him in person in coffee shops to discuss the vehicle, pleading with him to hand it back, but without any luck.

“I talk to him daily. I sent him an SMS this morning. I told him if he doesn’t hand over the car, we’re going to report the vehicle as being driven without the bank’s consent.

“He keeps promising me money is coming in and he will pay the bank. But it never happens.”

Efforts to contact Zondwa Mandela for comment proved fruitless.

Sunday Independent