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Did Mandla sell rights to Mandela's funeral?

By Kathryn Kimberley | 2012-02-20 06:46:19.0

MANDLA Mandela has 15 days to declare to the High Court whether or not he has sold the television rights to the funeral of his grandfather, former president Nelson Mandela.

Though the former Mvezo chief has denied rumours that he sold the rights to the SABC for R3 million in 2009, his first wife, Thando Mabunu-Mandela, is sceptical and is demanding answers.

Mabunu-Mandela told the Dispatch in an exclusive interview yesterday that though she was entitled to half of the Mvezo chief's cash, she would not accept any money made from Madiba's imminent death.

She said her share - of what could amount to R1,5-million - will be donated to a charity to uphold the Mandela family name.

On Friday the Mthatha High Court granted an order compelling Mandela to declare all his financial interests - including the alleged SABC deal.

Not only would this finally clear up the controversy over whether or not Mandela went behind family members' backs to sell the rights, it would also enable the court to equally divide the assets between the estranged couple.

The couple have been embroiled in a bitter divorce for the past three years.

They were married under civil law in community of property in June 2004 and a traditional ceremony followed.

Mabunu-Mandela filed for divorce in 2009 and the two have been fighting it out in court ever since. The order to compel comes after an ad hoc sheriff attached a minibus and several head of cattle belonging to Mandela in December last year after he failed to pay maintenance as stipulated by the court.

The Mthatha court had ordered him to pay R2,000 towards Mabunu-Mandela's legal fees and a R12,500 monthly maintenance while the divorce proceedings were under way.

The court also temporarily froze half the money in Mandela's bank accounts.

Now, in order to know exactly what she is entitled to, Mabunu-Mandela needs her husband to lay all his assets out on the table. But she refuses to benefit from the SABC deal - if it indeed took place.

The SABC has also denied owning the sole rights to broadcast the funeral.

Speaking to the Dispatch yesterday, Mabunu-Mandela said she would not accept any payout her husband may have received in exchange for the rights to air Madiba's funeral.

"If indeed he's found to have sold granddad's funeral rights, the portion I am entitled to will be given back to the Mandela family for them to plough back into his charity work, including education scholarships," she said.

"It would be underhanded and immoral to profit financially in that manner."

Though Mabunu-Mandela has made it clear she wanted the divorce to be resolved as quickly as possible, proceedings were halted several times after Mandela defied two court orders to marry a second and third wife at separate traditional ceremonies in the Mvezo Great Place in the Transkei.

Both marriages have since been annulled by the court and Mandela faces two criminal charges of bigamy after Mabunu- Mandela laid charges with the police in December last year.

Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has denied rumours that a warrant had been issued for Mandela's arrest after he had failed to appear in the Bityi Periodical Court last Friday, on both charges of bigamy.

Though Mabunu-Mandela's attorney, Wesley Hayes, is in possession of a copy of the warrant of arrest, NPA spokesman Luxolo Tyali said he did not have a record of the warrant. Tyali said the warrant might have been issued, but it was not executed.

"We have no record of a warrant being served on Mr Mandela."

Mandela's divorce lawyer, Bertus Preller, told weekend papers that he was unaware of a warrant being served on his client.

According to Hayes the order to compel will be served on Mandela today, giving him until March 9 to respond.

If Mandla fails to respond or show up in court again, Hayes expects the court to hand down default judgment.

"Once he has declared his assets, the joint estate can be divided equally and fairly. Both will get what they are entitled to," he said.

Mandela was unavailable for comment yesterday.