Young legal eagle set to argue for ‘royal sisters’

Kathryn Kimberley

NELSON Mandela’s daughters, fighting over their father’s assets, have fired their well-known attorney to once again secure the services of young Eastern Cape lawyer Wesley Hayes.

In his short career, 34-yearold Hayes has climbed the ranks to become the go-to lawyer for the controversial royal Mandela family. Last month, he successfully represented 15 Mandela family members in their battle against the former president’s eldest grandson, Mandla, to have the remains of their ancestors returned to a family grave site in Qunu, outside Mthatha.

But Hayes himself is not without controversy.

He is currently being investigated by the Cape Law Society after he allegedly instructed his advocate to inform a judge that Madiba was in a “vegetative state” – something that was later refuted by the icon’s wife, Graca Machel.

He reportedly did this so that the application could be heard urgently.

And while Hayes has vowed that he did nothing wrong, the Mandelas have stuck by their man.

Hayes has also been representing Tando Mabunu- Mandela in her bitter, dragged-out divorce from the Mvezo chief, since 2010, and has showed up Mandla’s seasoned lawyers with a costs order being issued against them on each occasion.

Dubbed Mandla’s biggest foe by international media, Hayes has had Mandla arrested for contempt of court, had his customary marriage annulled, and exposed his alleged infertility. During this time, he received numerous death threats.

Yesterday, Hayes – who has now joined Johannesburg law firm Mbuyiso Neale Attorneys as a consultant – filed his notice of appearance in the matter of Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela, up against big guns George Bizos, Tokyo Sexwale and Bally Chuene, in a bid to have them removed as directors of holding companies Harmonieux and Magnifique Investment Holdings.

The companies, worth an estimated R15-million, were set up to channel proceeds of Mandela’s handprints, artworks and several entities into the accounts of the companies for Mandela and his children’s benefit.

The sisters claim human rights’ advocate Bizos, businessman Sexwale and lawyer Chuene were never appointed by Mandela as major shareholders or directors. They, however, deny this and are opposing the application.

In a shock move in April, the Mandela sisters hired Madiba’s former lawyer and once close ally, Ismail Ayob, to represent them. Ayob started both companies but was booted out in 2005 when he paid R700 000 of the Nelson Mandela Trust’s money into trusts set up for each of Mandela’s eight children and grandchildren, without permission to do so.

But just three months into court action, Ayob has once again been given the boot, this time by Madiba’s daughters.

Ayob, 71, was quickly replaced with the much younger, charismatic Queenstown-born Hayes.

Hayes filed his notice of appearance with the Johannesburg High Court yesterday.

Although employed by Rhodes University as director of its Queenstown Rural Legal Centre (QRLC), Hayes will represent the sisters in his personal capacity. This, after he came under fire last month for representing the Mandela family in his capacity as QRLC director.

The QRLC acts for indigent persons whereas the Mandelas are worth millions.

Rhodes director of special projects Sue Smailes confirmed that Hayes would handle the latest matter in his personal capacity and that Rhodes had distanced itself from the case. She said Hayes was entitled to take on cases in his personal capacity.

This is a version of an article that appeared in
the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, August 3, 2013.

 

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