La Grange quiet on latest Madiba wrangle

THE WRITE STUFF: Winners of a Westering Primary School reading competition pose with Zelda la Grange who visited Fogarty's in Walmer Park yesterday to sign copies of her book. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
THE WRITE STUFF: Winners of a Westering Primary School reading competition pose with Zelda la Grange who visited Fogarty’s in Walmer Park yesterday to sign copies of her book. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

WHILE former president Nelson Mandela’s personal assistant Zelda la Grange wrote boldly of the Mandela family feuds in the past, she was reluctant yesterday to comment on the latest developments surrounding his Qunu homestead.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Madiba’s former wife, this month claimed that the world icon committed fraud when he registered the plot of land where the Qunu home stands.

Winnie has approached the courts to settle the dispute, saying the deed to the property was initially obtained by her and that his home is rightfully hers.

La Grange was at Fogarty’s book shop in Walmer Park, Port Elizabeth, yesterday to sign copies of her memoir Good Morning, Mr Mandela.

Asked her opinion on the Qunu fight, La Grange said: “I choose not to comment as it is none of my business. If the land issue affected me in any way I would have written about it in my book.”

Despite being in the Eastern Cape this week, a visit to Qunu is not on the cards for La Grange.

“I’ll visit Qunu once all the hoo-haa is over,” she said.

La Grange said in the latter years, when the political arena took a negative turn, Madiba was often not allowed to watch the news.

“Madiba was an optimist at heart and sometimes by choice. He always said that things in the country would get better. Seeing how the things he fought for weren’t going well, was upsetting to him. We tried to protect him as much as we could as it wasn’t good for his health,” she said.

The memoir, printed in both English and Afrikaans, exposes some of the family fights which broke out while Mandela was in hospital before his death.

While many criticised her for bringing the behind-the-scenes family matters to light, La Grange said the book captured her memories.

“In the end, I want the world to focus on the message of hope and transformation. That’s what the book is really about. If Mandela could change a naive Afrikaans girl like me, he can do it for anyone.” – Alvené du Plessis

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