Mandela’s Daughters Clash With Lawyers Over His Assets

Two of Nelson Mandela’s daughters who want access to his artwork and other assets are suing his lawyers, who have accused them of acting against the former president’s wishes.

Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini filed an interdict in the South Gauteng High Court last month to remove lawyers George Bizos and Bally Chuene and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as directors of two companies Mandela set up. His daughters, who were named directors of the companies in 2005, argue that the three weren’t properly appointed.

Chuene, who responded on behalf of himself, Bizos and Sexwale, deny wrongdoing and accuse Mandela’s daughters of acting in bad faith and counter to his instructions, according to court documents e-mailed to Bloomberg today.

Mandela, 94, won the 1993 Nobel peace price and served as South Africa’s first post-apartheid president from 1994 until 1999 after spending 27 years in prison under apartheid. He has been in the hospital three times since December and doesn’t appear in in public anymore. Bizos defended Mandela in his 1964 treason trial for sabotage and conspiracy.

Makaziwe Mandela and Dlamini want to force the other company directors to quit “to facilitate the distribution of monies in those two companies bank accounts to them and other family members,” Chuene wrote. “The application carries with it an ulterior motive.”

The daughters have argued that Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale “no longer enjoy the support of almost all the beneficiaries” of the Mandela Trust that owns the companies, according to court papers e-mailed to Bloomberg today by their lawyer, Ismail Ayob.

Mandela’s Artwork

Before filing the case, Ayob accused them of blocking distributions to the Mandela Trust and urging them to quit. He also said the three failed to protect the company’s interests by leaving tens of millions of rand in accounts earning little or no interest, letters annexed to court papers show.

Mandela fired Ayob and sued him in May 2005 for failing to properly account for sales of his artwork. Ayob denied any wrongdoing, saying Mandela was forgetful and behaved irrationally, and refuted claims that he benefited from the sale of the pictures.

Chuene wrote in the court papers that Mandela made it clear to his daughters in 2005 that he didn’t want them to control his affairs. Mandela also expressed opposition to his daughters’ involvement with Ayob during a 2006 meeting, according to Chuene.

Sello Hatang, a spokesman for Mandela’s foundation, referred all queries on the court case to Chuene.

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