Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie loses court bid to claim his home

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Thursday (April 7) lost a court bid to claim ownership of his rural home, in a ruling welcomed by his family after a bitter legal dispute.

The Eastern Cape High Court dismissed the case in which Ms Madikizela-Mandela said she was the rightful owner of the property in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province.

Mr Mandela spent much of his childhood in Qunu after being born nearby, and he returned there regularly after his retirement.

He was buried in Qunu in 2013.

In his will, the anti-apartheid icon left the house to his family trust, but Ms Madikizela-Mandela claimed it belonged to her under customary law because it was bought in 1989 while they were still married.

The couple were wed in 1956 and divorced in 1996.

"The family is grateful that this saga has now come to a close and trusts that Winnie will makes peace with the judgement," the Mandela family said in a statement.

"It is deeply regrettable that this challenge to his final wishes should have come from someone of her stature and proximity to the family."

Mr Mandela was arrested in 1962 and spent 27 years in jail before becoming South Africa's first black president in the post-apartheid elections of 1994.

On his death, he left his assets to family members, personal staff, schools and the ruling African National Congress party.

Mr Mandela's will, which did not mention Ms Madikizela-Mandela, said that he wanted the Qunu homestead to "be used by my family in perpetuity in order to preserve the unity of the Mandela family".

Mr Mandela married his third wife Graca Machel, the widow of Mozambique president Samora Machel, in 1998.