Lydia Mahakoe, the third woman to claim that Nelson Mandela fathered her, says Graça Machel frustrated her efforts to meet the former president.
The 70-year-old Lydia Mahakoe is the third woman to claim to be a Mandela love child. She says Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, failed to allow her to meet the icon in 2008, while he was still in relative good health.
Another alleged love child, Onica Nyembezi Mothoa, 63, of Soshanguve north of Pretoria, also claimed in 2010 that all her attempts to meet the man she believed was her father had been in vain.
Also in 2010, it was reported that Mpho Pule, born in 1945, had spent almost 12 years battling to see the man she believed was her father. She reportedly died in 2009, just months before Mandela’s office wrote to say they were close to confirming her claim.
Mahakoe lives in a Midvaal suburb in the Vaal with her children, who are influential ANC community leaders. Mahakoe, still an ANC card-carrying member herself, had hoped to go for a paternity test to prove that Mandela was indeed her father, but that was thwarted, as Machel allegedly did not live up to her promise of facilitating a meeting between “father and daughter”.
She said the meeting between her and Machel was organised by ANC stalwart Agnes Msimang.
“I met Mrs Machel on November 8, 2008. I told her my story and she said I must not talk to anyone about this, but wait until she and Mr Mandela returned from holiday - because she said they were travelling. I informed her that I had also tried to meet Winnie [one of Mandela’s former wives] but could not, due to the tight security at her house. I told her my hope was for Winnie to assist in ensuring the paternity tests took place.
“But she warned me not to talk to anyone, including Winnie, about this. She said, ‘What if Winnie tampers with the results when the tests come out? I gave [Machel] my late mother’s picture, which she took with Mr Mandela while they were still young. However, the meeting did not take place as promised and she also did not return the pictures,” said Mahakoe.
Mahakoe said the pictures had been the only fond memories of Mandela and her mother that she had. Mahokoe wept and said: “She could have at least allowed me to see him [Mandela] so that he could have either accepted or rejected me in my face. I am now old and I don’t have peace. I can only find peace when I meet with his family and bond with them, so that they can accept and acknowledge me. I do not mind going for a sibling DNA test with his children. I also want to see his grave.”