Madiba's 'love child' not allowed to see him

By SOLLY MAPHUMULO AND KRISTEN VAN SCHIE Time of article published Jun 28, 2013

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Johannesburg - Onica Nyembezi Mothoa, the woman who claims to be Nelson Mandela’s love child, travelled to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on Thursday, but was turned away at the gate.

Mothoa was born in Atteridgeville in 1947 to Sophie Majeni. She claims Majeni met Madiba while she was working as a domestic worker in Pretoria.

The 65-year-old woman, from Soshanguve North, has tried to meet the icon before.

She has been trying for several years, including making trips to Qunu, Eastern Cape, to meet him.

The Star reported in 2011 that Majeni’s parents had forced her to go into hiding after realising she had a child by Mandela.

Her mother’s family were allegedly paralysed by fear at the thought of being associated with Mandela, who had become a thorn in the side of the apartheid regime.

In the end, Majeni lost contact with Mandela.


In 2003, Mothoa started her campaign to try to meet Mandela, but obstacles blocked her attempts.

On Thursday, she left her house hurriedly when a group of ANC Women’s League members told her they were taking her to the hospital.

The women were visiting the hospital to pray for Mandela’s speedy recovery.

“I wanted to use the opportunity to pray for him and also to meet him. I knew it was going to be impossible because the Mandela family are rejecting me, but I had to try,” Mothoa said.

Speaking to The Star on Thursday night, she said security guards had told her that nobody was allowed to enter the hospital premises.

Mothoa, who bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Mandela, said the guards at the gate had told her: “We can see you look like him, but there is nothing we can do. We have been instructed not to let anyone into the hospital premises except the family.”


In September last year, Mothoa travelled to Qunu but was turned away by police at the Mandela residence’s gates.

“They manhandled me and told me they can’t let me into the premises. This is the most painful thing to be denied the opportunity to meet your father,” she said on Thursday night.

Mothoa said she stood for several hours outside the hospital gate on Thursday.


“I don’t want him to die before I meet him. I don’t know why the family are not allowing him to tell them if he knows anything about my mother,” she said.

“If they are not hiding anything, why are they not giving him the opportunity to meet me?” asked Mothoa.

Chief Mandla Mandela did not answer his phone on Thursday. Neither did Sello Hatang of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

In August 2010, the foundation said the family would investigate Mothoa’s claim.

Later, Hatang said the issue was a private matter that they had handed to the Mandela family to investigate.

Weeks before Mothoa came forward, it was reported that another woman, Mpho Pule - who also claimed she was Mandela’s love child - had spent almost 12 years battling to see him. Pule died in 2010, a month after Mandela’s office wrote to say they were close to confirming her claim.

Mothoa said she feared the same thing could happen to her. She indicated at the time that she was prepared to take a DNA test to prove her claim.

Meanwhile, the latest news from the Presidency on Thursday was that Mandela was critical but stable. It was his 20th day in hospital.

The update came shortly after President Jacob Zuma visited him in hospital.

Earlier this week, Zuma raised concerns when he announced that Mandela’s health had slipped from serious to critical. He added fuel to the speculative fire on Wednesday night when he cancelled a trip to Mozambique.

On Thursday, he said that although Mandela’s condition remained critical, it was now stable.

“He is much better today (Thursday) than he was when I saw him last night,” he said.


In an interview with the SABC, Makaziwe Mandela said:

“He does not look good, I’m not going to lie.”

She said that although her father was critical, he was still responding to the outside world.

“When we talk to him, he will try to open his eyes. When we touch him, he will still respond… As long as Tata still responds, that gives us hope.”

Makaziwe, who is Mandela’s oldest surviving child, born of his first marriage to Evelyn, was scathing towards the media in the interview, calling some of the coverage “crass” and even racist.

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The Star

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