Aide's book describes 'farcical' aftermath of Mandela's death

Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:09pm EDT
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By Helen Nyambura-Mwaura

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela's widow was forced to get accreditation to attend his memorial service and could only bring four family members as his clan squabbled after his death, the South African icon's former private assistant says.

Graca Machel, who became Mandela's third wife in his twilight years, was frequently undermined by some members of his family, former Mandela assistant Zelda la Grange wrote in her memoirs published on Thursday.

"It was becoming farcical. If we could barely get Nelson Mandela's widow and her children accredited to attend his memorial service, it was becoming downright impossible to get anyone else officially accredited," la Grange wrote in the book "Good Morning, Mr. Mandela".

State inefficiency also meant friends like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Oprah Winfrey struggled to get passes to the funeral last December in rural South Africa, according to her account.

Mandela's daughter Makaziwe has threatened to sue la Grange over the book's allegations, according to local media.

"I have learned from Madiba that you will never, ever do anything that will please everyone. You have to be happy with yourself," she told Reuters, referring to Mandela by his clan name, when asked about the threat of legal action.

"THE ROTTWEILER"   Continued...

Nelson Mandela's former private assistant Zelda la Grange signs a copy of her book "Good Morning, Mr Mandela" at the book launch in Johannesburg, June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Rogan Ward