Jean-Jacques Cornish

Mandela family claws out for Zelda la Grange’s book

The family of the late Nelson Mandela’s baring its claws at claims made in a book by his former private assistant.

Zelda la Grange she doesn’t know of anyone alive who was treated with such disrespect as Mandela’s wife Graça Machel during his final days and at his funeral.

In her book on the19 years she served as Nelson Mandela’s assistant, Zelda la Grange says Graca Machel was hurt and emotionally brutalised by the Mandela family.

La Grange details several cases of Mandela family in-fighting that sidelined Machel and many of Mandela’s close friends.

She says the family allowed strangers to visit Mandela when he was too ill to speak but excluded his life-long friends.

La Grange says Machel was allocated only five seats for Mandela’s funeral.

Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe hits back saying La Grange will have to substantiate her claims against the family or she will be sued.

La Grange stands by the contents of the book which is due to be published here on Thursday She maintains there’s not one line that can be contested in the book.

La Grange singles out Zindzi Mandela as one member of the former president’s family who was not unkind to Machel.

Le Grange’s claims and the Mandela family’s angry reaction have gone viral on social media in South Africa.



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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.