JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nelson Mandela‘s family has come under new scrutiny after a South African university law clinic said it gave free legal aid to a group of the former president’s relatives on the grounds that some are poor.
The revelation was met with skepticism in South Africa where poverty is endemic and a number of commentators have questioned whether a clinic that is supposed to help the needy was instead seeking benefits from association with the high-profile family.
Many South Africans were already troubled by the Mandela family feud, which has coincided with the long illness of the 95-year-old anti-apartheid leader. Mandela was taken to a hospital on June 8 to be treated for a lung infection; the government says he is improving but remains in critical condition.
Mandela’s family members went to court against a grandson of Mandela who exhumed the anti-apartheid leader’s three deceased children from Mandela’s hometown, Qunu, and reburied them in nearby Mvezo. The group won the case with help from the Rhodes University Law Clinic and the bodies were reburied in their original location.
The grandson, Mandla Mandela, is the oldest male Mandela heir and a tribal chief in Mvezo, where his grandfather was born.
Rhodes University said it became involved when the Mandela family urgently requested help from Wesley Hayes, a deputy director of the law clinic who was “previously known” to the family.
Among four family members deemed by the law clinic to be indigent and therefore deserving of aid are 22-year-old Mbuso and 20-year-old Andile, younger brothers of Mandla.
They were aligned in the case with a dozen other relatives including Mandela’s three surviving daughters, one of whom is South Africa’s ambassador in Argentina, and Graca Machel, Mandela’s wife and a former first lady of Mozambique.
Susan Smailes, director of the special projects for the university, said Wednesday that one objective of the clinic in taking the prominent case was to highlight the kind of issues that clinic lawyers are pursuing. In a statement on Monday, the university gave other reasons.
“It is not uncommon for law clinics to represent groups of people, including some who are not indigent, in litigation involving matters that impact on human rights and the socio-economic conditions of disadvantaged communities,” it said.
“The view was that Mr. Mandla Mandela’s approach to deciding this family matter was at the expense of women’s voices in the family,” it said. It noted “tension” between the role of women in traditional matters and women’s rights enshrined in South Africa’s constitution.
Freddy Pilusa, a spokesman for Mandla Mandela, said the dispute had nothing to do with women’s rights and that it was “absurd” to suggest that any member of the Mandela family is indigent.
“That is really tantamount to taking from the poor and giving to the rich,” Pilusa said in reference to the provision of legal aid to the family.
Hayes, a salaried employee of the law clinic, did not receive additional payment for representing the family, according to Smailes. She said case costs would be covered by Mandla Mandela because he lost.
On its website, the law clinic says a key objective is to help those who can’t afford private lawyers, “thereby increasing access to justice to the poorest of the poor and creating a greater respect for the rule of law.”
30 Best Nelson Mandela Quotes
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1. "It always seems impossible until it is done. "-Nelson Mandela
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2. "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." -Nelson Mandela
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3. "Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose." -Nelson Mandela
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4. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela
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5. "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." -Nelson Mandela
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6. "Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mind cannot be separated." -Nelson Mandela
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7. "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." -Nelson Mandela
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8. "In my country we go to prison first and then become President." -Nelson Mandela
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9. "Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement." -Nelson Mandela
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10. "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." -Nelson Mandela
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11. "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances."-Nelson Mandela
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12. "If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness & Forgiveness."-Nelson Mandela
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13. "Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."- Nelson Mandela
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14. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."-Nelson Mandela
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15. "I have retired, but if there's anything that would kill me is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do. "-Nelson Mandela
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16. "I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people."-Nelson Mandela
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17. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another."-Nelson Mandela
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18. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."-Nelson Mandela
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19. "Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS."-Nelson Mandela
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20. "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."-Nelson Mandela
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21. "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."-Nelson Mandela
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22. "I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses."-Nelson Mandela
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23. "I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself."-Nelson Mandela
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24. "We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."-Nelson Mandela
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25. "I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."-Nelson Mandela
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26. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."-Nelson Mandela
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27. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."- Nelson Mandela
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28. "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. "-Nelson Mandela
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29. "Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future."-Nelson Mandela
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30. "Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace. "-Nelson Mandela
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