Mandela wives battle over who owns house where he is buried

SHAFAQNA – Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie, has attacked the late statesman’s widow, Graça Machel, in the latest stage of an escalating row over his inheritance that has overshadowed the anniversary of his death.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela, who was married to Mr Mandela for 38 years until he divorced her, claimed that she owned the house and grounds where he was buried in South Africa’s eastern Cape and questioned why he would leave it to Ms Machel, who already owned “the world in Mozambique”.

Some of Mr Mandela’s relatives had hoped to turn the estate, in Qunu, into a Gracelands-style shrine but he bequeathed the whole property to his family foundation, with instructions that it should be administered for Mrs Machel and her children. Ms Machel was previously married to the president of Mozambique, Samora Machel, and owns a number of properties there.

She married Mr Mandela on his 80th birthday in 1998 — two years after he divorced Winnie, his second wife, who he said had made him feel like “the loneliest man” in the years after his release from prison by having an affair with Dali Mpofu, a lawyer who was half her age.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela launched a legal challenge in October, claiming that she had acquired the land in 1989, the same year that her thuggish bodyguards, known as Mandela United Football Club, murdered a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Moeketsi.

She was convicted of kidnapping and beating the teenager but cleared of murder and her six-year prison sentence was later reduced to a fine.

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