Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on May 13, 2008. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Nelson Mandela's family has come under new scrutiny after a South African university law clinic revealed it was conned into giving free legal aid to a group of the people related to the former president.
The family members, who allegedly received the legal aid intended for poor South Africans, brought a court case against Mandela's grandson, Mandla. Last month, they took Mandla to court to force the exhumation of family bones from the elder statesman's birthplace, Mvezo, to the village where he grew up, Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province, reports the LA Times.
The former South African leader, who is in hospital with a recurring lung infection, has expressed a wish to be buried next to his children, leading critics to believe that the legal wrangling is about gaining control of future tourist revenue likely to flow from Mandela's memorial site. A recent report stated that "doctors have confirmed that his health is steadily improving" and that Mandela had a "joyous 95th birthday" last week, reports KMBZ.
Some of the family members who brought the court action were deemed to be indigents, according to a statement from Rhodes University, whose law clinic helped them win the case.
"Indigence is assessed on an individual basis and not a family or group basis," the statement said. Only some of the family members met the criteria, however, a decision was made to represent all of them for free, it said.
"Some of the 15 Mandelas who pleaded indigence in order to claim legal aid to fund their case against Mandla Mandela own homes worth millions and drive flashy cars," said a report by Independent Online, a South African news site.
The Star newspaper also found that Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe, owns a mansion worth more than $1.36 million, while her daughter, Tukwini, owns a substantial house.