Nelson Mandela children 'try to oust Bizos from companies'

Nelson Mandela in July 2012 There is growing concern about Mr Mandela's health

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Daughters of South Africa's first black President Nelson Mandela have launched a court action to oust three of his aides from companies linked to him, a local newspaper reports.

Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela allege the three have no right to be on the boards of two companies worth about $1.7m (£1.1m), The Star reports.

One of the three, Mr Mandela's lawyer George Bizos, denied the allegation.

The case comes amid growing concern about the health of Mr Mandela, 94.

On Saturday, he was discharged from hospital after being treated for a recurring lung infection and pneumonia.

Start Quote

There is no basis to the allegations - we are not hijackers”

End Quote George Bizos Mr Mandela's lawyer

Mr Mandela had fluids drained from him.

His latest stay in hospital was his fourth in two years.

Correspondents say there has been a bitter feud since 2005 for control of money generated in Mr Mandela's name, especially the sale of drawings he made while in prison for opposing white minority rule.

Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela filed court papers on Tuesday, alleging that Mr Bizos, Housing Minister Tokyo Sexwale and Mr Mandela's ex-lawyer Bally Chuene were never appointed as shareholders or directors of Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings, The Star reports.

The two companies were set up to channel money from the sale of Mr Mandela's iconic handprint for his and his children's benefit, it reports.

"All three - Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale - were invited to resign as directors, which invitation they declined," Makaziwe said in an affidavit, the newspaper reports.

A man looks at some limited edition signed lithographs from former South African President Nelson Mandela on 9 March 2004 in New York City There has been a long-running dispute over some artwork with Mr Mandela's signature

"Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale were not formally appointed by the shareholder [Mandela] of the companies by way of any resolution."

Mr Bizos, a respected human rights lawyer and close friend of the former president, told The Star that they would defend the case.

Mr Mandela's daughters were trying to "get their hands on things that should not be sold", he said.

"There is no basis to the allegations. We are not hijackers," Mr Bizos is quoted as saying.

"The public should ask themselves why five years later these allegations are being laid. We are confident we were regularly appointed at the wish of Mr Mandela five years ago."

'Dodgy case'

The Star reported that Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela's legal action was supported by a third daughter of the ex-president, Zindzi, as well as his grandchildren, among them African National Congress (ANC) MP Mandla Mandela and businessman Zondwa Mandela.

In a statement, lawyer Michael Hart, representing the three defendants, said court papers "contain no sworn affidavits from beneficiaries supporting the application other than those of the applicants".

Mandela's key dates

  • 1918 - Born in the Eastern Cape
  • 1943 - Joined African National Congress
  • 1956 - Charged with high treason, but charges dropped
  • 1962 - Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison
  • 1964 - Charged again, sentenced to life
  • 1987 - Treated for tuberculosis
  • 1990 - Freed from prison
  • 1993 - Wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1994 - Elected first black president
  • 1999 - Steps down as leader
  • 2001 - Diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • 2004 - Retires from public life
  • 2005 - Announces his son has died of an HIV/Aids-related illness
  • 2007 - Forms The Elders group
  • 2010 - Appears at closing ceremony of World Cup

The allegations against Mr Bizos, Mr Sexwale and Mr Chuene were "scurrilous", Mr Hart said.

"Our clients record their dismay at the insensitivity of the applicants in publicly releasing the unanswered court documents, particularly at this time," he added.

Mr Sexwale told South Africa's privately owned eNCA television station that there was something "dodgy" about the court case.

"I still do not know what the quarrel is about. As a colleague and a comrade of Nelson Mandela, if he appoints you, you do the job."

Makaziwe is Mr Mandela's daughter from his first wife, Evelyn Mase while, Zenani and Zindzi are from his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

He is currently married to Graca Machel, the former first lady of Mozambique.

Mr Mandela is widely regarded as an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle.

He spent 27 years in jail for fighting white minority rule.

Mr Mandela was freed in 1990 and became South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994.

He stepped down after one term in 1999.

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