South Africans will have been shocked but not surprised by yesterday’s Sunday Times report about 16 family members using legal aid in their spat against Mandla Mandela. The Rhodes University Law Clinic, which sponsored the court battle, cannot possibly believe that as a group the 16 are poor.
Granted, four of them are students, but they are not studying in Grahamstown and they are all connected to high-income families.
They don’t meet the criteria applied by Legal Aid SA. Nor do they fit Rhodes University Law Clinic’s own description of one of its main objectives, “the provision of free legal services to the indigent people of Grahamstown and the surrounding area, who cannot afford to pay a private practitioner”.
In the week when people around the world celebrated International Mandela Day, the contrast could not be more stark. The essence of Mandela Day is service to others, the giving of one’s time, services, skills or whatever for the betterment of fellow humans.
The essence of what Madiba’s relatives are doing is the polar opposite. They are driven by self-centred grasping, taking from others for their own benefit.
If those others happen to be poor people of Grahamstown who cannot afford lawyers, tough luck.
While Madiba lies critically ill in hospital, and we all commend his virtues, the family vultures are doing their best to tarnish the Mandela name. Rhodes Law Clinic is merely a politically correct pawn in a bigger game of greed.