Family feud over struggle icon’s estate

2012-03-10 15:36

The family of struggle icon Henry Makgothi is embroiled in a bitter court battle over his estate.

The former ANC deputy secretary-general’s 82-year-old widow, Manonosi, wants the South Gauteng High Court to declare two of his wills invalid.

She married him 17 years ago in community of property and claims that she is entitled to half of his estate. The couple had no children together.

On the other side of the family feud is one of Makgothi’s three sons – Selema Makgothi-Masekela (28) – whom Makgothi fathered with former president Nelson Mandela’s one-time personal assistant and former ambassador to France, Barbara Masekela.

He wants the wills to remain in force and his stepmother’s application dismissed with costs.

The court case also lists the ANC as a respondent, but the organisation is not opposing the matter.

In both wills, Makgothi, who spent a decade imprisoned on Robben Island, left R1?000 to the party.

He said he “owed a debt of abiding gratitude”.

Makgothi, affectionately known as Squire, was one of the founding directors of the ANC’s investment company, Chancellor House, and died a year ago after a stroke.

His widow and son are battling it out over a house in the Xavier Reef complex in Ormonde, south of Johannesburg, where houses fetch up to R1.2?million.

Also included in the estate are three cars and an unspecified amount of cash.

In his wills, Makgothi left his widow half of the money, one of the cars and the use of the house until she died, after which it would be inherited by Makgothi-Masekela.

Another of the cars was left to Makgothi-Masekela’s cousin, Monnapule Makgothi, who has joined him in the court fight.

Makgothi-Masekela, who is also the nephew of legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela, now wants one of the wills, which is handwritten, to be analysed by a forensic expert.

Makgothi-Masekela, a strategist at advertising firm Mortimer Harvey, believes his stepmother has
been influenced by her granddaughter, whom he says has spurred her on to make the claims against the estate, “I am unsure that she appreciates the contents of what is contained in her affidavit, or whether she has been coached or unduly influenced into making the allegations contained in the founding affidavit,” he says in court papers.

He also says the claims that she makes in her court documents are not consistent with the woman that he lived with and knew well when his father was still alive.

To back up his claims, Makgothi-Masekela tells in his court papers of how his stepmother’s granddaughter was appointed the executrix of his father’s estate in unexplained circumstances.

“She did not enjoy a good and healthy relationship with my father, and it is inconceivable and disrespectful to my father that she would even be appointed executrix of his estate,” he says.

But his stepmother denies this, saying: “I was not influenced by any person.”

Makgothi-Masekela’s lawyer, Jonathan Heher, did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Manonosi Makgothi’s lawyer, Medi Mokuena, said they were waiting for responses from Makgothi-Masekela and his cousin after filing a declaratory affidavit this week.

A court date will be set after those have been filed.

Last year, the ANC described Makgothi as a “humble, modest, respectful and dedicated” leader.

One of his wills dictated how he was to be buried: “Without any form of exhibition and fuss.”

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