/ 15 June 2014

Mandela’s wife Machel humiliated, sidelined – La Grange

Former president Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel in 2009.
Former president Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel in 2009.

Nelson Mandela’s wife Graca Machel was humiliated and sidelined amidst family power struggles that took place during the global statesman’s final days and funeral, the Sunday Times reported.

“Mum [Machel] was hurt and emotionally brutalised,” Zelda La Grange – Mandela’s assistant for 19 years – said in extracts of her soon to be released memoir. La Grange detailed a number of incidents in which family in-fighting left Machel – along with many close friends of Mandela – sidelined. 

La Grange said when Mandela was too ill to speak, his family allowed strangers to visit him; while excluding life-long friends. She also said that Machel had to get accreditation for Mandela’s funeral and was only allocated four seats and one for herself at the service for her side of the family. “I don’t know of any person alive who has been treated with the amount of disrespect that people have shown towards Mrs Machel.” 

Meanwhile, Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela told the newspaper that La Grange would have to substantiate her claims against the family or she would be sued. La Grange said the exception was Zindzi Mandela. However, La Grange said that she had told the truth: “There’s not one line that can be contested in the book”. – Sapa