Mandela’s letter to Ayob

A central piece of evidence has emerged in the battle for former president Nelson Mandela’s trusts and companies worth millions.

This week answering affidavits were filed by Madiba’s attorney, Bally Chuene, in response to claims by his daughters Zenani Dlamini and Makaziwe Mandela.

The sisters claim that Chuene, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and Advocate George Bizos were never appointed by Mandela as major shareholders or directors of the family companies.

But Chuene disputed these claims by attaching to his affidavit a letter written by Mandela to his former lawyer, Ismail Ayob, in 2004 making his wishes clear.

City Press is in possession of the letter dated June 10 2004.

In the letter, Mandela states that:

» Ayob should deliver “all the papers in all matters that you have handled as my family attorney” to Mr Chuene;

» It was his wish that the current trustees of his family trusts be replaced by new trustees;

» Once the new trustees have been appointed, Ayob should liaise with them to ensure that they are “fully briefed on, and given complete control of the assets and affairs of the?trusts”;

» It was his wish that the current directors of the family companies be replaced by new directors (at the time Ayob was the only director of all the companies); and

» He was “anxious to ensure that the transfer of the management and administration of my personal and family business and financial affairs is effected as expeditiously and smoothly as possible”.

Chuene states that this particular letter is important as it contains Mandela’s instructions to Ayob to assist in the replacement of trustees and directors of the various family companies. Nowhere in the letter does it mention that Mandela’s children should be trustees or directors of the companies.

Numerous letters followed between Chuene and Ayob in relation to the finalisation of Mandela’s wishes.

In one of the letters written by Ayob to Cheune, dated January 2005, he said that the trustees (himself and his relatives) were surprised “to learn of your demand that they (the trustees) resign as trustees of the family trusts and that they be replaced by four strangers to the family” (Judge Themba Sangoni, Bizos, Sexwale and Chuene).

Ayob wrote that should Chuene persist in demanding that the present trustees resign and be replaced by those named by Mandela, Chuene would have to give sound reasons that they are unfit to hold their current positions as trustees of the family trusts.

Chuene wrote in his affidavit that he received a further email from Ayob. It stated that the people Mandela requested to take over the reins from him were not suitable to take control of the family and to attend to the day-to-day wellbeing of the Mandela family.

“Mr Mandela himself, recognising his own circumstances, declined to be so involved,” read the email.

Chuene believes that Ayob had blatant disregard of Mandela’s wishes and requests. According to the affidavit, a family meeting was held at Mandela’s Houghton home in 2005, where the two Mandela daughters, Bizos, Sangoni, Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel, Sexwale and Chuene were present.

The affidavit states that Mandela made it clear to the applicants (Makaziwe and Zenani) that he did not want them involved in his affairs.

“Mr Mandela wanted the applicants to resign their trusteeship. Everyone agreed at this meeting after Machel proposed a compromise allowing Mandela’s children to remain as trustees and the additional appointment of four independent trustees,” wrote Chuene.

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