Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lost her claim to Nelson Mandela’s house in Qunu (pictured) after a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein on Friday upheld an Eastern Cape High Court ruling in 2016 that she has no claim to the property and that Mandela was the rightful owner, local media reported.
In his will‚ Madiba (a title of respect for Nelson Mandela deriving from his Xhosa clan name) had left the property to the Nelson Mandela Family Trust for the benefit of the family including his third wife Graca Machel and her children.
The former wife of Mandela wanted the court to set aside a decision taken by the then minister of land affairs on November 16, 1997, to donate the land to him.
Madikizela-Mandela contended that the property was built on the land allocated to her in 1989 and that only in 2014 — a year after her former husband’s death — she discovered the property was registered under Mandela’s name.
Her attorney, Mvuzo Notyesi, said the high court in Mthatha had judged the matter on technicalities and not on its merits.
Notyesi argued that the custom followed by Nelson Mandela’s abaThembu tribe, says that the rights to the property should go to Madikizela-Mandela and her descendants, irrespective of whether the wife was divorced or not.
After hearing the arguments, SCA observed that Madikizela-Mandela unreasonably delayed her court move to review the 1997 decision by the minister of land affairs.
Responding to her appeal to condone the delay, the top court said a reasonable person like her should have asserted her right to ownership of the property before Mandela’s death.
The court found the petitioner’s delay prejudicial to Mandela’s estate and heirs since his version of events was not available. It, hence, dismissed the application.
Welcoming Friday’s ruling, chief of the Royal House of Mandela, Mandla Mandela, said it honoured Madiba’s final wishes that the Qunu residence be managed by the executors of his estate.