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Mandela’s driver among first to receive bequests from will

Nelson Mandela’s driver, his personal assistant and grandchildren all received cash bequests from his will on Friday as executors of his estate carried out his final wishes more than two years after his death.

The South African liberation hero’s family fought bitterly over his legacy before he died, and his house in Qunu, in Eastern Cape province, is subject to a dispute between his former wife Winnie and his family trust.

Mike Maponya, 68, Mandela’s driver for 23 years, said he was “deeply pained but happy” to receive his cheque of 50,000 rand ($3,200) along with other former staff members.

“It’s symbolic of Madiba’s kindness and generosity,” Maponya said, using Mandela’s clan name, after being handed the money at a ceremony in Johannesburg.

“This day brings so many memories, memories spanning 23 years. He shall never be forgotten,” he said.

“I am not surprised that he left something for so many of us. Very few people would do that.”

Mandela served as president from 1994 to 1999 after leading the struggle to end apartheid. He died on December 5, 2013 aged 95.

His personal assistant Zelda la Grange was not present to receive her bequest, which was among about 22 million rand distributed.

Other beneficiaries included the University of Fort Hare, which Mandela attended, Qunu Primary School, his first school, and Orlando West High School in Soweto, in the township where he once lived.

One of the executors, Dikgang Moseneke, praised Mandela’s family for their conduct despite their often strained relations.

“There was no fight within the family. The family was united, they gave us support… something befitting of Madiba’s stature,” said Moseneke.

Mandela’s will was made public in February 2014, showing that his widow, Graca Machel, received the bulk of his estate.

The executors said his house in Qunu was left out of the process due to the ongoing legal case.

Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela claims she is the rightful owner of the property where he spent much of his childhood, and where he returned regularly after his retirement.

He was buried nearby.