Mandla infertile, estranged wife claims in court

Kathryn Kimberley

MANDLA Mandela, the grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, has fertility issues and is unlikely to produce an heir to the abaThembu nation, his estranged wife claimed in an affidavit yesterday.

The shocking claims were made just a day after the Mvezo Traditional Council chief revealed he was not the biological father of the little boy introduced to Madiba as his great-grandson.

Mandela said his second bride, Anais Grimaud, had been having an affair with his younger brother, which resulted in the birth of her son.

Grimaud, 21, has as a result been banished to her home town in the Reunion Islands. She could not be reached for comment.

Now, in papers filed with the Mthatha High Court, Mandela’s first wife, Tando Mabunu-Mandela, not only questions her husband’s ability to impregnate a woman and produce an heir to the community of Mvezo in the Transkei, she says he is not even a traditional chief. “[Mandela] has in any event fertility issues which render him incapable of producing an heir through natural conception,” she said.

Mabunu-Mandela is represented by attorney Wesley Hayes of Joubert Galpin Searle, instructed by Advocate David Smith.

The documents form part of her application to annul Mandela’s marriage to his third bride, Mbalenhle Makhathini.

Mandela had married the young KwaZulu-Natal woman on Christmas Eve, despite a court order interdicting him from doing so.

According to the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, a civil and a traditional African marriage cannot co-exist.

It is therefore illegal for Mandela to take more than one wife – civilly or traditionally – while still married to Mabunu-Mandela.

Mabunu-Mandela and Mandela married under civil law in community of property in 2004.

She filed for divorce in 2009 and the two are still fighting over assets.

As a result, she fears each time her husband remarries, her share of the assets will diminish.

In papers filed with the court in June, Mandela said as a chief, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act did not apply to him and he should be allowed to marry more than one woman, despite already being civilly married to Mabunu- Mandela.

He claimed he was entitled and even obliged to take many wives from his community in order to produce an heir for the AbaThembu nation. He called sections of the customary marriages act “unconstitutional” because it did not recognise his right to do so.

The very act which he now seeks to declare unconstitutional was signed into law by his grandfather when he was president. He said civil marriages could now be validly regarded as polygamous.

In court papers yesterday, Mabunu-Mandela said Mandela’s argument was moot because not only was he physically unlikely to produce an heir, the responsibility did not lie with him because he was not a “proper” chief.

“It is important for this court to consider that [Mandela] isn’t a proper chief in every sense of the word. The chieftainship was initially sought to be conferred on his grandfather, Nelson Mandela, who respectfully declined the offer.

“On prompting his grandfather, it was requested by [Mandla] Mandela that the chieftainship be conferred on to him.

“In other words, Mandela can never aver that his chieftainship is a hereditary title.

“The tribe has never regarded Mandela as a true chief. He obtained that title as a consolation.”

Mabunu-Mandela further highlighted the fact that Mandela was born out of wedlock, traditionally disentitling him from assuming chieftainship. Mandela is the first-born son of Zondi and Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, who were not married at the time of his birth. Mabunu-Mandela said her husband was an abaThembu and native of the Transkei region, while Makhathini hailed from KwaZulu-Natal.

She said Mandela could therefore not rely on the assertion that he was entitled to conclude a customary marriage “with a woman in the community”.

Mabunu-Mandela also highlighted the fact that she had obtained a court order interdicting her husband from marrying Makhathini.

She said therefore, on Mandela’s own submissions, he had married Makhathini in contravention of a court order.

Mandela’s marriage to Grimaud was annulled by the court in 2010.

Mabunu-Mandela said this was testament to the weakness of Mandla’s argument.

Both Mandela and his attorney, Gary Jansen, were unavailable for comment.

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