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Mandela's ex-wife denies family at war

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-12-19 20:45

CAPE TOWN - Late former South African president Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has denied media reports that Mandela's family was at war after the death of the anti-apartheid icon.

In a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Xinhua on Thursday, Winnie expressed disappointment at the media's interference in closed matters of the Mandela family.

Mandela's ex-wife denies family at war

Winnie Mandela (R), ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, and Graca Machel (C), widow of Mandela, attend Mandela's funeral ceremony in Qunu, Eastern Cape in this December 15, 2013 handout picture provided by the South African Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). [Photo/Agencies]

Winnie rebuked unambiguously the attitude of the media towards the Mandela family, their mischievous innuendos and newsroom slugs designed to disgrace the family through their apartheid-style tactics.

According to the statement, numerous articles, op-eds, reports and editorials in outlets such as The Citizen, The Times, The Sunday Tribune and The Star have hammered on the idea that the Mandela family is at war with itself since the news first broke that Madiba had passed away.

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

The latest editorial published in The Citizen newspaper deplorably titled "Time For Mandela Family To Behave" is preposterous, Winnie said.

"Dissolute media outlets are last to prescribe 'family behaviour' to the Mandelas. This recent pattern is all the more worrisome in light of certain editors' decision to negatively use the Mandela name on the front pages of their newspapers to draw revenue," Winnie said.

Winnie requests that all media running these discourteous media commentaries refrain from doing so.

Three daughters survive Nelson Mandela, namely Ms. Makaziwe Mandela, Ms. Zenani Dlamini-Mandela and Ms. 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, according to the statement.

"To this end there is no misunderstanding, or debate," the statement said.

As for Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela, Winnie said he is respected as one of Mandela's grandchildren, the next generation of the Mandela family.

The statement said Winnie and the family thank Makaziwe Mandela for the leadership qualities and strength of character that she has demonstrated.

There is plenty of time -- and there are abundant venues -- for the media to debate relevant questions about the Mandela family's historical role, their legacy and fate, the morality of their actions, and the meaning of the information they have chosen to disclose, said the statement.

"Right now is not the time. The family is mourning the loss of their beloved Nelson Mandela and should be afforded the time and space due to them," the statement stated.

Mandla and Makaziwe have reportedly been involved in a bitter public spat over the control of Mandela's legacy and leadership of the fractured family.

The Times reported on Tuesday that locks at the Mandela Qunu homestead were changed days after he died and that Mandla was locked out.

The report said Mandla found his home on the Mandela estate without electricity and water on the day of his grandfather's burial.

Makaziwe Mandela ordered the locks to be changed after she arrived while Mandla was keeping vigil next to his grandfather's coffin while the anti-apartheid icon's body lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days, the newspaper said.

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