JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela left his $4.1 million estate to family members, the ruling African National Congress, former staff and several local schools, according to a reading of his will on Monday.
The will was expected to set off another round of squabbling among members of his large and factious family over the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s financial legacy.
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said he was not aware of any possible wrangle over the provisional 46-million-rand estate, although when the will was read to family earlier on Monday the mood was “charged with emotion.”
“I am not aware of any contest of any type and the will has been duly lodged and accepted,” Moseneke said.
Mandela’s third wife, Graca Machel, is entitled to half the estate under South African marital law but could waive her claims and opt for specified assets that include properties in her native Mozambique. Machel has not made a decision on whether to weave her rights, Moseneke said.
Some of the estate would be split between three trusts set up by Mandela, including a family trust designed to provide for his more than 30 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Each of the Mandela children and some of his grand-children received $300,000. His upscale Johannesburg house, where he spent most of his life after being freed from apartheid jails, would be home to his deceased son Makgatho’s children.
The ANC, which was Mandela’s political home, could receive a portion of his royalties from books and other commercial outlets using his name and image. Mandela staff, including his long-time personal assistant Zelda Le Grange, also shared in the fortune with 50,000 rand each.
“It really makes me happy. I didn’t think Tata was thinking of leaving something for me,” said Mandela’s personal chef Xoliswa Ndoyiya, referring to Mandela using the Xhosa word for father.
Mandela, who died in December at the age of 95, left an estate that also included a modest dwelling in his rural Eastern Cape home province and royalties from book sales, including his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”.
More visibly, his legacy includes a potent political and moral brand that some of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren have already used to market everything from clothing to reality TV.
Some of his grandchildren have started a line of caps and sweatshirts that feature his image under the brand “Long Walk to Freedom”. Two of his U.S.-based granddaughters starred in a reality television show called “Being Mandela”.
Such aggressive marketing - as well as reports of fighting among family members over Mandela’s money - have fuelled the impression in South Africa that some of the family members have exploited their world famous relative.
Additional reporting by David Dolan and Siyabonga Sishi; Editing by Larry King