Mandela: Is there another will?

2014-02-09 14:01

It was a tense family that gathered at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Monday, summoned for the reading of the late statesman’s will.

While Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke was reading Nelson ­Mandela’s dying wishes in the 43-page document, it was clear that some of his family had different expectations about what remained in his estate.

“Somewhere along the way, some members of this family had developed totally unrealistic expectations – quite delusional really – imagining that Madiba had vast sums of money to leave them,” said an official who was present at the reading.

But there was only R46?million. Mandela’s will is strenuously even-handed. His daughters Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindzi received R3?million each, as did his wife Graça Machel’s two biological children, Josina and Malengane.

Mandela’s four grandsons Mandla, Ndaba, Mbuso and Andile, offspring of his late son Makgatho, also received R3?million each, the rationale being that because their father was no longer alive, they needed special provision. The rest of the grandchildren each received R100?000 – as did Graca Machel’s six stepchildren.

However, Makaziwe, Zindzi and Zenani each received loans of R3?million while their father was still alive and, because their inheritance cancels that debt, they won’t get any more money. This has not gone down well. Zindzi was reportedly in tears after the reading, and Makaziwe was stony-faced.

Another insider at the reading said: “You can imagine this will was not received with much jubilation – the family was expecting a lot more money. A lot more. They won’t be happy that of the little money that was left, so much went to his stepchildren.”

Meanwhile, City Press has reliably learnt that questions have been raised about the validity of Mandela’s will, which could mean it will be challenged in court. The problem is that the two codicils, or amendments, refer to another will that was executed by Mandela on October 12 2004.

But the copy of the will City Press obtained from the Master of the High Court’s office in Johannesburg bears a different date. The final typed paragraph refers instead to a date in August 2004, the day of which has not been filled in.

Arnold Shapiro, an attorney specialising in wills and estates, said it was unlikely that a legal professional drafting the codicils would refer to an incorrectly dated will. “In light of this, one must assume that there is a missing will dated October 12 2004.”

Shapiro said although a date was not a requirement for a valid will, it was “worrying” that the codicil referred to an apparently incorrect date. “My professional opinion is that I don’t think the codicils should have been accepted [by the Master of the High Court].”

Johann Jacobs, national practice head of trusts and estates at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, said the codicils raised the intriguing question of whether “there’s another will that post dates the August date”.

“If there is a document subsequent [to the August will], then that is the base document. Even if the original cannot be produced, if somebody had a copy, it would have the effect of revoking the August 2004 will.”

The executors of Mandela’s estate declined to comment on the matter. A close reading of the will reveals that the family did not follow Mandela’s funeral wishes to the letter. “It is my wish that my funeral should be interdenominational consistent with my belief that we should not prefer one religion above another, the personnel to be approved by my third wife and family,” he wrote.

However, Makaziwe, who took very firm rein on the very Christian funeral arrangements in Qunu, appears to have overlooked this instruction, although it was followed during the memorial service.

Machel is by law entitled to half of her and Mandela’s joint estate because they were married in community of property.

But the will stipulates that if she waives this right – which City Press understands she will do – her children will inherit the money Mandela has left them and she will retain her and Mandela’s shared properties in Mozambique, which were hers before they married. She will also retain her jewellery, personal bank ­accounts, car and any works of art she wants to keep from the Houghton house.

However, if she claims her 50%, some of the remaining beneficiaries could have their inheritance reduced.

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