Mandelas set for bitter divorce case

ROBERT BLOCK

Johannesburg

In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela wrote extensively about falling in love with his now estranged wife, Winnie. Although smitten by the beautiful young social worker, he said he knew their life together would be difficult. "I never promised her gold and diamonds and I was never able to give them to her," he recalled. As of today, that last bit might change.

Barring an eleventh-hour out-of-court settlement, lawyers for Mr Mandela and Winnie are this morning expected to begin what promises to be a long and bitter divorce case that will end 38 years of marriage.

Money is expected to be the central issue in the Johannesburg court showdown. Neither the President nor Ms Madikizela-Mandela (as Winnie - having attached her maiden name - now calls herself) has made any public statements. Lawyers for both sides are even refusing to confirm today's hearing. But the news of the pending case and Ms Mandela's supposed gambit to get her hands on half of her husband's estate is all the rage.

Ever since Ms Mandela contested the divorce last year on grounds that the President did not attempt a reconciliation, in accordance with tradition, it has been speculated she would seek financial compensation for her years of support for Mr Mandela while he was in jail and she was raising his two daughters. The big question was how much she was after.

Yesterday the City Press, a Johannesburg weekly, said Ms Mandela was seeking pounds 3m. Quoting sources close to the couple, it said her claim includes a share of his Nobel Peace Prize as well as royalties from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, which has been a best-seller in Europe and America for months.

It also said she is demanding that the President pay off the pounds 80,000 mortgage on her mansion, which is in an area of Soweto nicknamed Beverly Hills.

Money is very important to Ms Mandela now, both for her political and her personal survival. She is said be in a great deal of debt after the President dismissed her last year as deputy arts and culture minister. Since then she has been involved in a costly series of legal wrangles, some brought against her, others started by her. So far she has lost one and still has several pending.

The President initiated the divorce proceedings after separating in 1992, two years after his release from 27 years in prison. The separation was partly prompted by rumours of an affair.

However, in the past few weeks Ms Mandela has emerged from the political wilderness with new vigour and a new image to match. Gone are the flamboyant African robes and head-dresses of old. Instead, she has appeared in parliament, and on the front pages of several newspapers, in sober business suits. She has also been working hard on avoiding controversy. During the recent session of parliament in Cape Town she was described as a "model MP".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss