Winnie denies Mandela family feud

RAY FAURE The Associated Press Published:

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- Nelson Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has denied that his family is engaged in a "succession or dynasty" battle amid media reports of a family feud. She also said the anti-apartheid fighter's eldest daughter is now the head of the family.

The Johannesburg tabloid The Times reported earlier this week that Mandela's grandson Mandla had found himself locked out of the Mandela homestead in the Eastern Cape hamlet of Qunu where Mandela was buried on Sunday.

According to the report, Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, had ordered the locks changed after she arrived while Mandla was keeping vigil next to his grandfather's coffin as the body lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days. Mandla also reportedly found his home on the Mandela estate without electricity and water on the day of his grandfather's burial.

?He declined to comment on the matter. His spokesman, Freddy Pilusa, told The Associated Press: "He (Mandla) doesn't want to confirm nor deny the report. He wants to focus on promoting and upholding the legacy of his grandfather going forward."

Madikizela-Mandela, in a statement issued on her behalf by her spokesman, Thato Mmereki, lashed out at what she called "mischievous innuendos and newsroom slugs designed to disgrace the family" through "apartheid-style" tactics.

She said she is disappointed with the media's "interference in closed matters of the Mandela family."

"These reports have done nothing but use half-truths to cast a shadow on the Mandela family during their time of bereavement," she asserted.

Madikizela-Mandela noted that three daughters survive Nelson Mandela: Makaziwe Mandela, Zenani Dlamini-Mandela and Zindziswa Mandela.

"In accordance with customary law and tradition the eldest daughter, being Ms. Makaziwe Mandela, will head the family and will make decisions with the support of her two sisters. To this end there is no misunderstanding, or debate. Mr. Mandla Mandela is respected as one of Nelson Mandela's grandchildren, the next generation of the Mandela family," she said.