Rhodes defends legal aid for Mandelas

2013-07-24 08:40

Rhodes University has defended its decision to provide legal aid to the Mandela family members who took Mandla Mandela to court about the relocation of the graves of former president Nelson Mandela’s children.

The Rhodes University Law Clinic applied the means tests as stipulated by Legal Aid SA, its special projects director Susan Smailes told The Star today.

“An objective of the Rhodes University Law Clinic is to provide free legal advice and services to people who are deemed to be indigent,” she was quoted as saying.

“Indigence is assessed on an individual basis and not a family or group basis.”

However, the newspaper reported that some of the 15 Mandela family members represented owned homes worth millions and drove expensive cars.

Legal Aid SA reportedly said the people who qualified for aid were those who earned less than R5500 a month after tax, pensioners or those receiving state grants, and whose houses and belongings were not worth more than R300 000.

According to the newspaper, Dumisa Ntsebeza SC described the reasons given to defend the Mandelas as “spurious and disingenuous” and said they were funded because they were high-profile people.

“You only have to look at the 12 applicants – no one in their right minds can give them funding,” he was quoted as saying.

When the Star contacted Mandela’s granddaughter Ndileka Mandela for comment, she reportedly said: “I’m not willing to comment on the story. I won’t comment now and I won’t comment in the future.”

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