Mandela family received legal aid funding

A file photograph of Makaziwe Mandela. (Gallo)

A file photograph of Makaziwe Mandela. (Gallo)

Makaziwe Mandela and 15 other members of Nelson Mandela's family, who took Mandla Mandela to court over the reburial of three of Mandela's children, received funding for their court applications from the Rhodes University Law Clinic as "indigents", according to a report.

The 16 applicants approached the Eastern High Court in Mthatha on June 28 to ask for an order forcing Mandla Mandela to rebury three of Mandela's children in Qunu. Mandla Mandela moved the graves from Qunu to his home at Mvezo Great Place in 2011. Days later, Mandla Mandela opposed the application after initially claiming he did not receive a summons regarding the first application. 

But the court granted the application in Makaziwe Mandela and others' favour, and the sheriff of the court summarily reburied the remains that week.

Mandla Mandela is still trying to have that order rescinded in court. 

The Sunday Times revealed that the law clinic had confirmed its funding of the court bid by Makaziwe Mandela and others, although it would not say which criteria it used to justify how the Mandela's were declared indigents.

The applicants included Mandela's wife, Graça Machel, and at least 10 grandchildren, who are either students or involved in their own business ventures. The report questioned why the Mandela family were declared indigents, given its financial position.

According to the report, the Rhodes University Law Clinic states as one of its objectives, "the provision of free legal services to the indigent people of Grahamstown and the surrounding area, who cannot afford to pay a private practitioner".

The Sunday Times said the Mandela applicants did not qualify: none of them live in Grahamstown or the surrounding areas, and are not students at Rhodes University.

The applicants' instructing attorney in the grave reburial dispute, Wesley Hayes, is reportedly a deputy director of the Rhodes Law Clinic.

Meanwhile, as Nelson Mandela turned 95 last week, President Jacob Zuma issued a statement saying the former statesman's health was "steadily improving". Mandela was admitted to hospital for a lung infection on June 8.

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