Fifteen years after their relatives helped free South Africa from apartheid, scions of two of the nation’s most famous families met in a hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean to start a business together.
Zondwa Mandela and Khulubuse Zuma, accompanied by an entourage of friends and advisers, decided at the five-star Beverly Hills Hotel in Durban in March 2009 to set up a company that would take advantage of laws favoring black investors in mining. They didn’t put up any money.
Six years later, Nelson Mandela’s grandson and President Jacob Zuma’s nephew are fighting claims alleging fraud amounting to almost 2 billion rand ($164 million) in a civil case after gaining access to two mines near Johannesburg without paying for them. About 5,000 workers have lost their jobs, operations ceased five years ago, equipment has been sold for scrap — and almost $10 million of gold is missing, court documents show.
Mandela and Zuma “are still enjoying luxurious lifestyles despite workers suffering with no food, water or electricity,” said Joseph Montisetse, a regional secretary for the National Union of Mineworkers. “They have tarnished the image of our political leaders.”
Zondwa Mandela, 31, and Khulubuse Zuma, 44, are awaiting a judgment on whether they are personally liable for claims following the collapse of their company, Aurora Empowerment Systems Ltd. Mandela, Zuma and their fellow defendants deny they are responsible for the mining venture’s failure, saying they never had full control of the mines.