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He was a celebrated symbol of peace and democracy the world over.
But in the last years of his life, Nelson Mandela’s own family has been at war, bickering between themselves over his many millions.
And in the wake of the anti-apartheid leader’s death at 95 today, it is feared his surviving family will be plunged in to deep rifts over who stands to gain his fortune.
Mandela was married three times and fathered six children – only three of whom, his daughters Makaziwe, Zenani ‘Zeni’ and Zindziswa, are still alive.
His daughter Makaziwe, from his first marriage, and Zenani, from his second marriage, have reportedly already become embroiled in a legal battle earlier this year over the control of a £1million trust fund.
Mr Mandela’s third daughter, Zindzi, is not involved in the court action, the Star of South Africa reported.
Bitter dispute: Makaziwe Mandela, left, and her sister Zenani, right with Nelson Mandela
But Makaziwe and Zanani are demanding access to the fund and have begun legal action against the trust’s two directors; 84-year-old lawyer George Bizos, who defended Mandela in the 1963 Rivonia Trial, and 60-year-old Tokyo Sexwale who was a prisoner alongside Mandela on Robben Island.
Supported by almost all of Mr Mandela’s grandchildren, Makaziwe and Zenani allege that the trust was intended for them and that Mr Bizos and Mr Sexwale ‘hijacked’ it.
Makaziwe and Zenani have also launched a legal battle against the same two men and another lawyer Bally Chuene who are all directors of companies whose main purpose was to channel funds from the sale of Mandela’s handprints.
The two daughters claim that Bizos, Sexwale and Chuene were never appointed by Mandela as major shareholders or directors. Bizos claims the allegations are completely false.
It is understood that Mandela has accumulated a fortune of more than £10million from his many autobiographies, intellectual work and after turning his family name in to a brand – a move his family have been more than happy to take advantage of.
The family is active in more than 110 trading companies, according to records compiled by Beeld newspaper.
His daughter Makaziwe has founded the House of Mandela wine label and is reportedly an active director in 16 other companies, although she insists some directorships have lapsed.
Addressing claims that the Mandela family are exploiting their name, Makaziwe has been quoted as saying: ‘It’s our name anyway. Why should we apologise for our name?
‘I’m in the wine industry. There are families who’ve been in the wine industry for 500 years and no one says they are cashing in on their name.
‘Every child in this family who wants to use the Mandela name has a right to do, so as long as they do so with honour and integrity and upholding the values of my father.’
Meanwhile, many of his grandchildren control other franchise companies or products.
He has 17 grandchildren and a growing number of great-grandchildren – several of whom have been accused of trying to make money off the back of their family ties with the famous leader.
The money was placed in the fund by Mr Mandela in 2005 to be distributed to his daughters only in the event of hardship as he wanted them to forge a career of their own rather than live off his money.
He is said to have set up around 27 such funds over the years after ‘losing trust’ in his children with the money intended to last generations for ‘specific circumstances’ and not general use.
Legal rows: Nelson Mandela, centre, is surrounded by his grandchildren – many of whom supported a legal bid to gain control of a Mandela art merchandise company – at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape, on his 90th birthday
MANDELA’S FAMILY TREE
Nelson Mandela married three times, fathering six children, only three of whom are alive today.
Mandela married his first wife Evelyn Ntoko Mase in 1944 but they divorced 13 years later.
The couple had two sons, Madiba ‘Thembi’ Thembekile, who died in 1969, and Makgatho Mandela who died in 2005.
They had a daughter named Makaziwe ‘Maki’ Mandela who died a few months after being born in 1947 and named their second daughter in her honour.
He married his second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in 1957 and they divorced in 1996.
They had two daughters, Zenani ‘Zeni’ and Zindziswa ‘Zindzi’ Mandela-Hlongwane.
Mandela remarried on his 80th birthday in 1998 to Graça Machel who he was still married to at the time of his death.
He has 17 grandchildren – the oldest born in 1965 and the youngest in 1992 – and a growing number of great-grandchildren.
Two of his granddaughters – Zenani’s two daughters Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini who are both in their 30s – appeared in a reality TV show called ‘Being Mandela’.
While the 94-year-old former South African president does not appear in the show, his second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela – ‘Big Mommy’ to her grandchildren – has a central role.
The sisters, along with two brothers, also launched a fashion line, called ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ in honour of their grandfather’s autobiography.
Many family members have also become embroiled in scandals – with his grandson Mandla Mandela being accused of bigamy when he wed French teenager Anais Grimaud while still apparently married to his first wife.
The pair then later split when the couple’s child was alleged to have been fathered by one of his brothers.
Mandla is the oldest son of Nelson’s late son Makgatho.
He was born in 1974, followed by Ndaba (1983), Mbusu (1991) and Andile (1993). It is not known which brother was involved with his wife.
Mandla has also been accused in the past of trying to sell the TV coverage rights of his grandfather’s funeral for £225,000.
Family members have also accused Mandla of wanting to evict a cousin from her home near Johannesburg in order to turn it into a tourist attraction. Mandela denied the allegations.
As well as financial rifts and court battles, Mandela’s family has also been struck by many tragedies over the years.
His son, Makgatho Mandela died of AIDS in 2005 and Mandela’s great-granddaughter, 13-year-old Zenani Mandela, was killed in a car crash caused by a driver travelling at twice the 80km/h speed limit on a motorway in South Africa in 2010