The once plush Houghton house of former president, Nelson Mandela lies in ruins.
There has been speculation as to what has caused the family to flee the house, which hosted some of the leading local and international stars, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Naomi Campbell, Michael Jackson, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to name but a few.
Reports indicate that the mansion, which is now a shadow of its former self, was apparently abandoned by members of the family after the lights were cut off, allegedly due to non-payment of rates.
Mandela’s grandchild, Mbuso Mandela, accused some of the trustees responsible for the Nelson Mandela Trust of collusion and failing to act in the best interests of the family.
“There is a lot of collusion happening between the trustees and the executor of the estate. Everybody knows that if you sit on the board of a trust, you get a stipend for maintaining the trust. I believe these guys are working together to ensure that the maintenance of this house does not happen and there may be an agenda to sell the house,” he said.
Speaking to Independent Media yesterday, former ANC spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, said he fondly remembered some of the eminent persons who graced the property to be received by the magic of Nelson Madela, adding that it was unfortunate to see the home in this condition.
“It is truly sad that the residence of President Mandela in Houghton has been allowed to go to rack and ruin. I have so many great memories of having gone to visit Madiba there and the critical conversations that we had. Both when he was still president of the ANC and of our country, and also after he had retired.
“In my mind’s eye, I can still see him sitting there in his favourite chair in the lounge, at the bay windows, having his favourite cup of tea. When one visited Madiba. He was always the perfect host, and he always made sure that one was comfortable and well taken care of.
“He would always pour the coffee and tea for one as his guest. He was always the perfect gentleman.Madiba received many world leaders, and well known celebrities from throughout the world, in that house,” Niehaus said.
It is reported that the multi-million mansion, on 12th avenue in Houghton, was at some stage, occupied by Mandela’s grandchildren. They have since moved out after they could not keep up with the monthly municipal services which increased from R15 000 a month to R50 000.
However, these claims could not be verified as the City of Joburg said it is bound by customer confidentiality principle and would not reveal how much the Mandala Houghton home, said to have been abandoned and left to rot, owes the municipality.
This shocker of the sad state of the house comes just when the country commemorated Madiba’s 10th anniversary of his passing on December 5.
Asked whether the house has been paying for its municipal services, spokesperson for the city of Joburg, Kgamanyane Maphologela, said that Section 19 of POPIA binds the City from revealing confidential client information.
“The City only has the relationship with the account holder not the third party and therefore is bound by relevant legislations in terms of processing personal data. The POPIA Act places a duty on all municipalities, including the City, to protect the privacy and integrity of the customer information.
“The protection and safeguarding of all customers' information is paramount for the City,“ Maphologela told Independent Media.
Attempts to get comment from ENS Africa, the legal firm responsible for the Nelson Mandela Family Trust were unsuccessful, with Veronica Stevens saying: “Thanks for reaching out to our team. Happy to assist where we can, but unfortunately, due to client privilege, we are unable to assist on this one.”
A trustee of the Nelson Mandela Trust, Wim Trengove, said the Houghton home belonged to a company called Itirele in which Mandela had shares, which are now held under his estate. Trengove indicated that the executors recently contacted him in an effort to authorise the transfer of the home by transferring the company to the trust.
He said, once that process is complete, the family will be consulted to decide the fate of the Houghton home.
ANC spokesperson, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, said the party could not comment on the state of the house as that was the business of the family and those entrusted to look after Madiba’s estate.
“The issue of the house is a matter between the family and those entrusted to take care of the family trust,” she said.