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Nelson Mandela’s grandson calls for boycott of KZN marathon ‘exploiting’ his name

A marathon held in honour of Nelson Mandela is still being fought over. Picture: Obed Zilwa/African News Agency (ANA)

A marathon held in honour of Nelson Mandela is still being fought over. Picture: Obed Zilwa/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 2, 2022

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Durban - As the wrangle over the Nelson Mandela Day marathon held every August in Pietermaritzburg drags on, the grandson of the global icon has urged athletes to boycott the new marathon to take place on the same route but with a different name.

Inkosi Mandla Mandela of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape says the decision by KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) to change its name in order to sidestep a court interdict is regrettable.

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Last week the Pietermaritzburg High Court heard the matter of whether the marathon should go ahead or not. It ruled in favour of the uMgungundlovu District Municipality which claimed it owns the rights to the marathon.

Shortly after the ruling, KZNA president Steve Mkasi announced a new marathon to take place on the almost same route as the Mandela Day marathon, to be known as the Hilton to Capture Site Half Marathon

The Mandela Day marathon starts from Manaye Hall in Mbali township and concludes at the Mandela capture site in Howick. Manaye Hall was where Mandela addressed his last public meeting (the All Africa Conference) before the apartheid government arrested him in Howick.

Now, Inkosi Mandela says any attempt to hold this marathon is opportunistic.

“We accordingly call on all athletes to disassociate from this spurious attempt by KZN Athletics to hijack an event which they neither initiated nor have ownership of. This is disingenuous in the extreme and lacks integrity.

“The deplorable effort by KZN Athletics to sully the decade-long effort to preserve and memorialise an important event in our global icon’s life is in bad taste and unbecoming of any patriotic South African.

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“We call on KZN Athletics to desist from their current foolish efforts as it is neither in the interests of the event or the objectives upon which the event was founded,” Inkosi Mandela said in a statement on Tuesday.

Furthermore, Inkosi Mandela said KZNA did not consult with them regarding the date of August 7, 2022.

“Traditionally the Mandela Marathon was held on the last weekend of August but KZNA have prematurely announced its date without consulting us. We therefore call for a complete boycott of the KZNA event and urge all athletes, clubs, supporters and the media to stay away and not support it.”

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Responding to Inkosi Mandela, Mkasi said it was disappointing that while as athletes they are committed to upholding the good name of Madiba, one of his family members is dragging it into the mud.

Mkasi said Inkosi Mandela and Dr Ray Ngcobo, the municipal manager of uMgundlovu district municipality, in court papers, are contradicting one another in their claims about who founded the marathon.

Inkosi Mandela said he founded the Mandela Marathon together with athletics clubs in Edendale and Hammarsdale, while Ngcobo claimed the district municipality founded it.

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Nonetheless, Mkasi insists that athletics is their terrain.

“We reiterate, our position as KwaZulu-Natal Athletics is the administration of governance and athletics in the province of KwaZulu-Natal under the banner or auspices of South Africa.

“We are not interested in people using athletics to enrich themselves or thinking that they can score a quick buck for themselves using athletics.

“Athletes are members of clubs and clubs are members of KwaZulu-Natal Athletics,” he said, adding that all races are hosted for the benefit of athletes, not people outside the sport.

He added that the media release from Inkosi Mandela was concerning to them, as the body in charge of athletics matters in KwaZulu-Natal.

“‘We are perplexed at the new media release (by Inkosi Mandela), it flies contrary to the founding affidavit of what the affidavit of uMgungundlovu municipality said.

“We are now faced with the affidavit of Mr Philani Shangase who claims that he founded the race.”

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