Back off, Madiba told his daughters
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Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela did not want his children to be involved in the management of his cash and artworks.
These were the revelations submitted in the Johannesburg High Court by Mandela’s lawyer, Bally Chuene, in his replying affidavit against a lawsuit lodged against him by Mandela’s daughters Makaziwe and Zenani.
Chuene argues that Mandela’s former lawyer, Ismail Ayob, had influenced Mandela’s daughters to file the court papers against him and his co-directors, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and advocate George Bizos.
He stated that the motive for the daughters’ application was to gain access to Mandela’s money – said to be millions – and to sell his artworks.
Chuene submitted that he became Mandela’s lawyer in 2004 after the statesman advised him that he had terminated Ayob’s mandate to act as his attorney.
Chuene said he had been instructed by Mandela in 2004 to write several letters to Ayob requesting access to all the information related to Mandela’s artwork. Ayob, said Chuene, allegedly failed to comply with Mandela’s wishes.
Chuene stated that he held several meetings with Mandela during the course of 2004 about Ayob’s failure to comply, and that prompted Mandela to sue Ayob.
Mandela’s court action was to prevent Ayob from marketing and selling any of his artworks or merchandise using his name.
Chuene stated that instead of complying, Ayob chose to register Makaziwe, Zenani and the late Makgatho Mandela as directors of the two companies in April 2005, which went against their father’s wishes.
“He did so in flagrant disregard of Mandela’s wishes and request, and in breach of his fiduciary duties to Mr Mandela. Mr Mandela was very upset. He called a meeting to be held at his Houghton home and at which Makaziwe and Zenani were to be present,” Chuene submitted.
The meeting was held in April 2005 and was attended by Mandela and his wife Graça Machel, his daughters, Bizos, Judge Themba Sangoni and Sexwale.
“During this meeting, Mr Mandela made it clear to Makaziwe and Zenani that he did not want them involved in his affairs and that the only persons he wanted involved were myself (Chuene), advocate Bizos, Judge Sangoni, Mr Sexwale and his other various nominees.
“Mr Mandela wanted Makaziwe and Zenani to resign their trusteeship. The independent advisers and Ms Machel proposed a compromise, and that was to allow the two to remain as trustees in addition to the appointment of the four independent trustees. It was pointed out that the independent trustees would be in the majority. Makaziwe and Zenani agreed and so did Mr Mandela,” Chuene said.
Contradicting the daughters’ claims, Chuene stated that another meeting was held on April 20, 2005 in which Makaziwe and Zenani signed a resolution appointing Chuene and his co-directors as trustees of the Mandela Trust.
Due to the continuing public spat in the media between Mandela and Ayob, another meeting was held in June 2006 following the intervention of former president Thabo Mbeki and Professor Jakes Gerwel. Both of them were concerned about the damage being done to the image of Mandela.
The meeting was attended by Gerwel, Zindzi Mandela, the chief of Bathembu in Qunu (which the papers do not name), Bizos, Sexwale, Machel and Chuene.
“Mr Mandela was furious that Makaziwe and Zenani had allowed themselves to be used by Mr Ayob and had continued to associate themselves with him knowing full well that he had terminated his relationship with Mr Ayob.
“He was moreover upset that they continued to be involved in his personal affairs, despite his clear instructions to them at the previous meeting held in April 2005,” he said.
Chuene added that everyone present at that meeting sought to impress upon Makaziwe and Zenani to respect Mandela’s views and wishes and not to “upset him any further. In his presence, they candidly agreed to do so.”
According to Chuene, the trouble began in August 2011, when Zenani asked for money to be distributed to them and other beneficiaries, but Bizos was reluctant to do so, citing legal and tax implications.
He said Bizos’s reservations were confirmed after Absa requested the original trust deed for the Mandela Trust.
“I accordingly requested the same from the Master of the High Court (in 2011), and received in response not only the original trust deed, but also an amendment to that trust deed which was purportedly effected by Makaziwe and Zenani on April 15, 2005.
“The discovery of this amendment to the Mandela Trust deed came as a complete shock and surprise to me, andI immediately informed my fellow trustees,” Chuene said.
He said the amended version of the trust deed did not confirm them as directors of the trust, saying that “when I informed Makaziwe that I had informed my fellow trustees and directors of Harmonieux and Magnifique (investment holding companies) of my discovery, she (Makaziwe) became upset and claimed that this would make it difficult for the family to obtain any money from the Mandela Trust”.
Chuene, Bizos and Sexwale have asked the court to dismiss Mandela’s daughters’ application with costs. The trio wanted a similar ruling against Ayob.
A trial date is to be set.