x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Mandela's family in legal aid controversy

Nelson Mandela's family has come under new scrutiny after a South African university law clinic said it gave free legal aid to a group of the former president's relatives on the grounds that some are poor.

JOHANNESBURG // Nelson Mandela's family has come under new scrutiny after a South African university law clinic said it gave free legal aid to a group of the former president's relatives on the grounds that some are poor.

A number of commentators questioned whether a clinic that is supposed to help the needy was instead seeking benefits from association with the high-profile family.

Many South Africans were already troubled by the Mandela family feud, which has coincided with the illness of the 95-year-old anti-apartheid leader. Mr Mandela was taken to a hospital on June 8 to be treated for a lung infection. He remains in hospital.

His family members went to court against a grandson of Mandela who arranged for the anti-apartheid leader's three deceased children from Mandela's hometown, Qunu, to be exhumed and reburied in nearby Mvezo. The group won the case with help from the Rhodes University Law Clinic and the bodies were reburied in their original location.

The grandson, Mandla Mandela, is the oldest male Mandela heir and a tribal chief in Mvezo, where his grandfather was born.

Rhodes University said it became involved when the Mandela family urgently requested help from Wesley Hayes, a deputy director of the law clinic who was "previously known" to the family.

Among four family members deemed by the law clinic to be indigent and therefore deserving of aid are 22-year-old Mbuso and 20-year-old Andile, younger brothers of Mandla.

They were aligned in the case with a dozen other relatives including Me Mandela's three surviving daughters.

The university defended its decision, saying it took the case to highlight the kind of issues it covered and because "Mandla Mandela's approach to deciding this family matter was at the expense of women's voices in the family".