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Winnie Mandela forced auction cancelled

South African sheriffs cancelled a forced sale of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s possessions to pay off her debts on Tuesday because they were unable to gain access to her house.

Officials arrived at the upmarket Soweto home of Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife and knocked repeatedly but nobody opened the tall metal gate.

She still owes 27,000 rand ($2,800, 2,200 euros) in legal fees after settling a debt to Abbotts College, a lawyer for the private school told SAPA news agency.

The school went to court earlier over unpaid school fees for a relative of Madikizela-Mandela.

A dining table set, 50 paintings, sculptures and a “room with books” were listed in the sale to pay the debt.

A large media contingent waited outside the walled compound when a black luxury car sped off from a side entrance.

It was unclear if Madikizela-Mandela was inside.

Tour buses driving past the house of one of Soweto’s most famous residents slowed down as tourists snapped pictures of the commotion.

It was unclear if the auction will take place at a later date.

One of her neighbours, Evelyne State, said Madikizela-Mandela forgot the community when she became rich.

She didn’t offer help when houses nearby were damaged in recent flooding, the 81-year-old told AFP.

“The waters destroyed everything, but Winnie up there didn’t know us.”

“Winnie’s had so many scandals since the beginning of this black government.”

Nelson Mandela married Winnie five years before he was jailed for sabotage during his opposition to apartheid in 1963.

The pair separated shortly before he became the country’s first black president after the end of minority rule in 1994.

Mandela married Graca Machel, widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel, in 1998.

Controversy has followed Madikizela-Mandela closely in recent years.

She was convicted a decade ago for using her position as the ruling African National Congress women’s league leader to defraud a bank.

In March, investigators said they were probing the “Mother of the Nation” for the murder of two men she accused of being apartheid spies in the 1980s.

She earns around 900,000 rand ($98,000, 75,000 euros) a year as a member of South Africa’s parliament.