Mandla Mandela in papgeld row

Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela is once again in trouble after his estranged wife opens criminal charges against him for failing to pay maintenance.

If found guilty, he could face up to a year in prison.

Tando Mabunu-Mandela hit back at her husband with the criminal charge last week after he reportedly withdrew the couple's money out of his bank account, despite a court order prohibiting him from doing so.

According to Mabunu-Mandela, the ANC member of Parliament has failed to pay maintenance as per a court order for the past four months.

He also allegedly ensured she could not receive her monthly allowance through the Sheriff of the High Court when he emptied the bank accounts from which she was being paid.

Nearly R6-million is alleged to be missing from the accounts, half of which was frozen by the Mthatha High Court in December last year.

It is alleged that the money was transferred into the account of Mandela's infant son born from his second marriage - which has since been annulled.

Mandela and Mabunu-Mandela were married in community of property in 2007, and she accordingly claims that half the assets accumulated during their brief union belong to her.

She filed for divorce in 2009. The two have been fighting it out in court ever since.

Mandela's legal representative Gary Jansen yesterday blamed the media for the delay in divorce proceedings. He refused to comment further.

The Mthatha High Court had ordered the former chief to pay Mabunu-Mandela maintenance of R12500 a month, and some money towards her legal fees pending finalisation of the divorce.

However, according to her attorney Wesley Hayes, Mandela failed to honour the court order, and has failed to pay maintenance for nearly a year.

On numerous occasions last year Hayes was forced to obtain a writ from the court instructing the Sheriff to attach Mandela's assets, which included vehicles and livestock.

However, Hayes said the process became too expensive and so in December he obtained a court order freezing half of the cash in Mandela's two accounts. This totalled nearly R3-million. First National Bank was served with a copy of the court order.

If Mandela failed to pay maintenance, after two or three months the sheriff would go to the bank and withdraw the amount owed.

Hayes said Mandela currently owed his client just under R50000.

However, the sheriff is unable to recover the money as the account was allegedly emptied last month.

Hayes said he had still not received clarity on the whereabouts of the cash. Yesterday, he said he was still in talks with FNB and would consider bringing charges of contempt against them should the R3-million not be recovered.

Mabunu-Mandela opened criminal charges at the Bityi police station outside Mthatha last Thursday.

Police at the station yesterday confirmed that a case had been opened. The matter is still under investigation.

This is the latest in a string of charges that Mandela faces as a result of the bitter divorce.