Johannesburg, April 12, 2013 – Directors of companies established to manage royalties from the sale of former president Nelson Mandela’s artworks will oppose a legal challenge by the world icon’s daughters to have them removed from their positions.
The legal battle comes at a time when there is growing concern over the former president’s health. He has been in and out of hospital for a recurring lung infection.
Law firm Norton Rose said on Wednesday it had been instructed by George Bizos SC, attorney Bally Chuene and government minister Tokyo Sexwale to challenge an application brought by Mr Mandela’s daughters, Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini.
Mandela’s daughters applied to the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday seeking to remove the three men as directors of Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings.
The companies were established by Mr Mandela’s former attorney, Ismail Ayob, and their sole function was to receive royalties from the sale of Mr Mandela’s artworks.
“Our instructions are that in June 2004, Mr Mandela ended his professional relationship with attorney Ismail Ayob and his firm. He provided explicit instructions to Ayob identifying the independent professionals and businessman of high repute who were to be appointed to replace Ayob and his family members as trustees of the various trusts and directors of the companies owned by on Wednesday.
Hart said his clients were identified by Mr Mandela and were in due course lawfully appointed as directors of the companies referred to in the application. His clients had instructed the law firm to reject the scurrilous allegations made by Ms Mandela and Ms Dlamini in their papers. “These will be refuted in the answering affidavits filed in support of their (the trio’s) opposition to the application,” Mr Hart said.
In the letter by Mr Mandela to Mr Ayob, signed on June 11 2004, Mr Mandela requested Mr Ayob to assist with the transfer of the management and administration of Mr Mandela’s personal and family business and financial affairs to a new team, including his new attorney, Mr Chuene. The letter is part of the court record in 2006, when the trustees of the Nelson Mandela Trust sought an order declaring that Mr Ayob was obliged to render a full and proper account of all the disbursements and all the distributions he made from the trust’s funds while they were under his control.
The matter was resolved when a settlement was reached in 2007 after Mr Ayob agreed to pay part of the R2.2m he was said to have disbursed from the trust without consulting the other trustees.
In the letter, Mr Mandela said it was his wish that the current trustees of the trusts that Mr Ayob established be replaced by the new trustees he had identified. Mr Ayob was the sole trustee of a number of trusts he had created for Mr Mandela. “It is my wish that the current trustees of the trusts be replaced by the new trustees identified,” the letter read. In the letter, Mr Mandela had requested that Mr Bizos, Wim Trengove and Mr Chuene be the trustees of most of the trusts.
He also asked Mr Ayob to replace the directors of companies he had formed for Mr Mandela with new directors. Mr Mandela nominated Mr Trengove, judges Dikgang Moseneke and Themba Sangoni, and Mr Bizos as directors of the two companies. BDLive