Dalindyebo: Winnie entitled to Madiba’s Qunu home

2014-08-06 16:44

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AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has thrown his weight behind former president Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s claim to the Qunu family home.

In a press conference at his Bumbane Great Place in Mthatha this afternoon, Dalindyebo said Madikizela-Mandela was entitled to the home according to abaThembu custom.

This follows a report by the Daily Dispatch that Madikizela-Mandela could challenge the late former president’s will, from which she was excluded. Executors of Madiba’s will were expected to meet today.

Flanked by Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyer, Mvuzo Notyesi, and senior abaThembu chief, Nkosi Mfundo Mtirara, Dalindyebo said: “Customarily [Mama Winnie] does not have anyone who can contest her claim.”

Dalindyebo said in a case of divorce custom dictates that when a man is the one who instigates the divorce, the divorce is null and void. This is because such divorces usually happen because of matrimonial problems and not problems that separate the right and status of the woman as a wife.

“But when a woman instigates divorce, the environment is different. Legally, a woman is a minor when her divorce is instigated. [The divorce] is legitimate when it is done by her parents or by her family. When it so done her status and marriage are completely dissolved.

“Mama Winnie legally contested the divorce to Tata, which means she was not the instigator of the divorce. The fact that she is still with the family is because, customarily, it is her right,” he said.

Dalindyebo said they were also not approached according to custom by Nelson Mandela about dissolving his marriage to Madikizela-Mandela.

“Given this, the status of a marriage between Mama Winnie and Tata Mandela, according to the Madiba custom, still remains,” Dalindyebo said.

He cited the case of a family in Zimbane in Mthatha, where a chief died after he had divorced his wife.

He said when the chief died his divorced wife was brought from her home to come and mourn him and to also act as regent for her young son.

Dalindyebo said the same could be said about Madiba’s first wife, Evelyn Mase – under similar circumstances – but because she later married another man, it customarily nullified her marriage to Madiba.

According to custom, Mase’s children should be under the guardianship of Madikizela-Mandela.

“Mama Winnie is going to be buried in Madiba’s place in Qunu despite the divorce. Those are some of the things customary and civil marriages have that are distinctive,” Dalindyebo said.

He said even the plot of land on which the Qunu residences are built was acquired in 1989 by Madikizela-Mandela – not Madiba – who was still in prison.

“It was just after the reburial of my father in 1989 that Mama Winnie requested the plot from myself and some elders. People were assigned to talk to the regent at the time and the matter was referred to the relevant chief,” Dalindyebo said.

“Basically that plot of land is definitely under Mama Winnie’s name. That is why I support her bid 100%. She is the kind of person I would support even if she was lying. But this time she is right on track on customary grounds,” said the king.

He said the fact that Winnie did not have a son did not make her claim less legitimate and referred to those who used this argument against her as engaging in “pumpkin and jungle politics”, which had no place in Thembu culture.

“People are trying to change customs overnight and taking advantage of those who don’t know our culture. They don’t know what they are talking about,” he said.

Dalindyebo said he was ready to cooperate and work with Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyers to make an affidavit supporting her in the matter.

Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyer, Mvuzo Notyesi, said the matter was now subject to a meeting of the executors of Madiba’s will.

“Once the executors make a decision from what we have sent them, it is only at that stage that further process will take place. Our affidavits would be filed and other steps taken immediately after executors make a decision,” Notyesi said.

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