There was a lot of attention on civil and customary law in the Mthatha High Court on Monday as Winnie Mandela launched her claim to Nelson Mandela’s Qunu house which he willed to the Mandela family, his third wife Graça Machel.
According to what advocate George Bizos told journalists on Monday, there was no mention of Winnie Mandela in the former president Nelson Mandela’s will and the will did not provide for her.
But now, Winnie Mandela is challenging the will by claiming rights to his Qunu homestead in Eastern Cape after allegedly keeping quiet for 17 years.
Advocate Bizos who is among the three executors of Mandela’s will also told journalists outside the Mthatha High Court that Madikizela-Mandela did nothing for 17 years after the property was registered in Mandela’s name.
Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s lawyers are arguing whether President Jacob Zuma has the power to dispose of the land.
One her lawyers Patrick Ntshawulana brought up an argument that Winnie Madikizela Mandela remained Mandela’s wife according to custom and was also a chief mourner at his funeral.
Bizos on the other hand said that Madikizela-Mandela’s divorce was legal and that she was disappointed at the way things turned out.
Another of Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyers in Mthatha High Court Mvuzo Notyesi, reportedly addressed a letter two years ago to Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, a co-executor of Mandela’s will.
Notyesi argued in his letter that according to AbaThembu custom, the rights to the property should go to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her descendants. This is irrespective of whether the wife was divorced or not.
“It is only in this home that the children and grandchildren of Mrs Madikizela-Mandela can conduct their own customs and tradition.”
Meanwhile, some of the AbaThembu leaders had argued that Winnie Mandela should have sought the opinion of the clan’s elders before laying claim to the estate.