Winnie Madikizela-Mandela set to contest former husband’s will

Published 23 Oct 2014

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela, is contesting a will written by the former South African president, claiming that their divorce was dishonestly obtained.

Mandela died at the age of 95 from a respiratory infection in December last year, bequeathing a Qunu property he owned to the Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela Family Trust.

However, Madikizela-Mandela has filed a claim that the divorce between her and her former husband was fraudulent and that the marriage certificate used in the divorce proceedings is a forgery.

The Daily Dispatch reported that it has seen a copy of the certificate and the document says it was issued under the terms of Act 21 of 1978 of the Republic of Transkei.

Madikizela-Mandela filed a submission contesting the will to the Mthatha High Court last week (October 14) through her lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi.

Originally, Madikizela-Mandela brought her concerns to the trustees of the Qunu property, but escalated the issue when they rejected her claims.

Contesting the will

Madikizela-Mandela has attacked the legitimacy of the divorce in a number of ways, including alleging that the signatures on the marriage certificate are not hers or her former husband’s.

She also noted that the document cites the Republic of Transkei, but claims this did not exist in 1958 when they were married because the region was only given independence in 1976.

Furthermore, Madikizela-Mandela said her and Mandela’s marriage officer was Reverend Gamndana, whereas the certificate records it as GGK Madikiza.

“The certificate is clearly a fraudulent document and is quite obvious that [during] the divorce hearing the court was misled and the divorce order was obtained through fraud or misrepresentation,” Madikizela-Mandela’s affidavit explained.

The marriage certificate’s authenticity could prove important, as it mentions that community of property is excluded. This means each spouse would maintain their separate estates if they divorced.

However, Madikizela-Mandela’s submission claims the courts did not order the forfeiture of the Qunu home and no settlement negotiations were conducted.

“Accordingly, [Nelson Mandela] is not at liberty to dispose of our property at will. The divorce order makes it pertinently clear that the question of assets was never finalised,” the submitted papers added.

Contesting a will in NSW

High-profile will disputes such as this may encourage other people to make a claim, particularly if they feel they haven’t been adequately provided.

Anyone hoping to challenge a will in NSW should contact a contesting wills lawyer for more information on their chances of successfully launching a dispute.

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