SUNDAY TIMES - Zindzi Mandela's derelict luxury mansion overrun by rats
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Sunday Times News By QAANITAH HUNTER, 2016-02-28 00:00:00.0

Zindzi Mandela's derelict luxury mansion overrun by rats

The rundown yard and stinking swimming pool of the Houghton mansion owned by Zindzi Mandela
Image: JAMES OATWAY

Neighbours of Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi are fuming over the state of her derelict Houghton mansion, which they say has caused rat and termite infestations in the posh suburb.

Residents said that two years after the City of Johannesburg stepped in, using public funds to clean up the 4000m² property, it remains an eyesore, devaluing neighbouring homes.

Mandela is based in Copenhagen as ambassador to Denmark. The abandoned house featured in newspapers in 2014 after it emerged that Mandela had neglected it.

One neighbour claimed she herself had spent thousands of rands on pest control. Huge rats had infested her garage, which is directly next to the rundown house, she said.

Zindzi Mandela Image: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Another neighbour has built a high wall to protect his property from vandals who have stripped the house. For years, the gate remained open, allowing vandals to come in and carry away doors and windows.

After media reports in 2014, a padlock was placed on the gate.

The house - which has been vacant for nearly a decade - is invisible through the front gate, because weeds and grass have taken over the front lawn.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said she was struggling to sell her property at its projected value because of the pest infestation from next door.

"I will never get what this house is worth because of the house next door. I need to sell up and leave," she said.

Worse still, branches threatened serious damage if they were to fall on her property.

"I will not survive if these trees fall [on my house] during a storm ... it is very dangerous," the elderly woman said.

No neighbour wanted to be named, fearing reprisals from the politically connected Mandela.

The Sunday Times understands that the daughter of South Africa's first democratically elected president threatened legal action against an estate agent. Mandela, who bought the property for R2-million about 10 years ago, threatened to go to the police when the estate agent offered to sell the property for far more.

At their wits' end, neighbours said they were planning to write to the South African embassy in Denmark.

City of Johannesburg spokesman Virgil James said the council could not do much apart from issuing orders to keep the house clean. Only after years of disregard could it request a demolition order.

"If we request a demolition order it would take three years or more. It is the last option. It is a very lengthy process."

The rundown yard and stinking swimming pool of the Houghton mansion owned by Zindzi Mandela Image: JAMES OATWAY

Detailed questions to the council about Mandela's property went unanswered.

It was reported in March last year that Mandela had not yet arrived in Denmark, six months after it was announced that she had been given the posting.

Government and family sources said the main reason she had remained in South Africa was related to her new partner's inability to accompany her. She denied the claim, however.

Family sources said Mandela's partner, a Kenyan, did not want to go to Denmark, and she was not prepared to leave without him. But government sources said there could be problems with a security clearance for him.

On June 26, it was announced that Mandela had finally taken up residence in Denmark.