Winnie and her Qunu court battle: 'The case is still on'
For her, it was a matter of principle to take a stand against African patriarchy
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s legal battle to acquire her former husband’s rural home was not for personal gain but a fight against patriarchy – and its outcome might end up being part of her legacy.
The struggle stalwart’s lawyer, Mvuzo Notyesi, told Times Select on Tuesday the “case is still on” and he was waiting for her family to give him “direction”.
“Her view has always been that – you can read her court papers – it was part of her convictions and her stand against patriarchy. She wanted to settle the law on the rights of women, particularly those in the rural areas. It was about the rights of women particularly in the African society and also the recognition of the African law after the advent of the constitution. The constitution recognises the African law but, in practice and implementation, African law is still regarded as inferior.”Madikizela-Mandela lost her legal bid for the Qunu home before the Supreme Court of Appeal. It dismissed her application to appeal against a judgment of the High Court in Mthatha. The judgment dismissed her application to inherit former president Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu.
She asserted that a decision of the minister of land affairs, in 1997, to donate the land to Mandela was irrational and had to be overturned. She claimed the home was built on land allotted to her in 1989 and was surprised in 2014 that the land was registered under the former president’s name.
When Madikizela-Mandela lost the case, Mandela’s grandchild, Mandla Mandela – the chief of the Royal House of Mandela – welcomed the outcome. He said it was in line with Mandela’s wishes.
But Notyesi said Madikizela-Mandela was supported by a number of chiefs in Qunu in her litigation.
“The matter is before the Constitutional Court; it is just waiting for a hearing date,” said Notyesi.
He said her death on Monday was unexpected. “I was shocked because I spoke to her on Friday. She had just returned from church.
“We spoke regularly on a broad range of issues, from private matters to political issues. She had a sense of humour. She would counsel you whenever you are down. Her experiences did not change her. She defined life in her own terms.”
At time of his death in 2013, Mandela was married to Graca Machel. The home was left to the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Trust.