Mandelas to fight it out in court

2010-03-28 10:11

FORMER president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Chief Mandla Mandela,

could soon have his second marriage declared unlawful if his estranged wife gets

her way.

Barely a week after sealing his traditional wedding to 19-year-old

Anais Grimaud at Mvezo Great Place in Mthatha, Mandela’s first wife, Thando

Mandela, has lodged an application with the Mthatha High Court to have the

traditional marriage ­declared null and void.

Mandela and Grimaud got married last Saturday in front of hundreds

of guests during an ukutyisa amasi ceremony (a Xhosa ceremony to ­introduce the

bride to the ancestors).

The application, which was served on Mandela at lunchtime on

Friday, follows last week’s urgent application by Thando to prevent the wedding

from taking place and to have Mandela’s bank accounts and ­assets frozen pending

their divorce.

But the wedding ceremony took place ­despite Judge Zamani

Nhlangulela issuing an eleventh-hour order against it.

Thando, a post-graduate student at Rhodes University in the Eastern

Cape, filed for divorce last year, arguing that Mandela sought to introduce

polygamy ­into their marriage. The two were married in a civil ceremony in June


In her latest affidavit, Thando argues that the customary marriage

between her ­estranged husband and Grimaud was ­unlawful as he was still legally

married to her, according to civil rites. “No spouse of a marriage entered into

under the Marriages Act of 1961, is, during the subsistence of such marriage,

competent to enter into any other marriage,” she says.

Referring to a section of the Recognition of Customary Marriages

Act, Thando challenges Mandela’s opposing affidavit in the divorce matter that

he, as a traditional leader, is “entitled and obliged” to take more than one

wife from the community of which he is chief. “The argument is ­incorrect for

another reason, (Grimaud) is not part of the community of which (Mandla) is

chief,” she says.

Mandela met Grimaud, a national of ­Reunion, last year.

Thando, who according to an associate is “taking huge strain”, says

Mandela’s ­“robust, imperious and arrogant attitude towards her has caused

personal embarrassment and humiliation”.

“In marrying Grimaud, despite full knowledge that he is still

married to me, has caused deep offence to me,” she says in her affidavit.

Published author and Rhodes University customary law expert

Professor Richman Mqeke says in terms of the Customary Marriages Act, Mandla is

not supposed to take another wife and that the act does not make any provision

or exception even though Mandela is a chief.

“If the first marriage is civil, he cannot have another marriage. A

civil marriage by its nature is monogamous.

“If he is married to Thando according to civil law, what he did is

illegal. He ­cannot get married before getting ­divorced,” said Mqeke.

Meanwhile, in his responding affidavits to last week’s urgent

application, Mandela for the first time openly revealed that he had intended to

marry a Swazi princess last year, but that this union too was thwarted by


Mandela has previously denied any ­involvement with Princess

Siphiwayena Dlamini, but in his court papers he ­reveals that she is being

groomed to ­become his wife.“Having been pressured by the nation to have a wife

I started the process of taking a Swazi princess from the Dlamini ­family,”

Mandela says.

While no lobolo has been negotiated, Mandela says he will not

“abandon” the Swazi princess.

The matter is to be heard on April 15.

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