Ex gives shock support to Mandela paternity denial

15 August 2012 - 02:16 By KATHRYN KIMBERLEY
Mandla Mandela. File photo.
Mandla Mandela. File photo.

Mandla Mandela, the grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, is infertile and unable to produce an heir to the chieftainship of the abaThembu nation, his wife claimed yesterday.

She made the shocking claims only a day after Mandela issued a statement in which he said that he was not the biological father of the child introduced to Madiba as his great-grandson.

The boy was born on September 1 last year and an excited Madiba chose his name.

However, on Monday, Mandela alleged his second bride, a French woman, had been having an affair with his younger brother that resulted in the birth of the son.

The 21-year-old had, because of the alleged affair, been banished to her home in Reunion.

Now, in papers filed in the Mthatha High Court yesterday, Mandla's estranged first wife, Mabunu-Mandela, not only questions her husband's ability to produce an heir but claims he is not even a traditional chief.

The documents form part of Mabunu-Mandela's application for the annulment of Mandela's marriage to his third bride, Mbalenhle Makhathini.

Mandela married the young KwaZulu-Natal woman on Christmas Eve despite a court order interdicting him from doing so.

Mabunu-Mandela and Mandela married under civil law in community of property in 2004.

According to the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, a civil and a traditional African marriage cannot co-exist. It is therefore illegal for Mandela to take more than one wife - civilly or traditionally - while married to Mabunu-Mandela.

She filed for divorce in 2009 but the two are still fighting over assets. She says she fears that every time her husband remarries her share of the joint estate's assets will diminish.

In papers filed with the court in June, Mandela said that, as a chief, he should be allowed to marry more than one woman, despite already being civilly married to Mabunu-Mandela.

He said he was entitled and obliged to take many wives from his community in order to produce an heir for the community.

He called sections of the customary marriages act "unconstitutional" because they did not recognise his right to do so.

In court papers yesterday, Mabunu-Mandela said Mandela's argument was moot.

"It is important for this court to consider that [Mandela] is not a proper chief in every sense of the word."

She said that the chieftainship was to have been conferred on his grandfather, Nelson Mandela, but he declined and asked that the chieftainship be given to his grandson, Mandla.

Mandela, she said, could therefore not claim that his chieftainship was hereditary entitlement.