JOHANNESBURG, May 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Betrayal, mistrust and anger highlighted Wednesday's media reports on an epic legal battle between former South African president Nelson Mandela and his former confidant Ismail Ayob.
Ayob was accused of faking and selling Mandela's artwork for huge money. Mandela's lawyers have filed papers in the Johannesburg High Court to stop Ayob and his businessman associate Ross Calder from selling millions of dollars of fake artwork portraying Mandela's prison years.
The well-revered statesman also wanted to remove Ayob and his wife, Zamila, from all of his trusts, despite longtime friendship he forged with his former lawyer while he was imprisoned on RobbenIsland off Cape Town in the 1970s.
"How this man betrayed me," read a banner headline on the frontpage of the national newspaper The Star, whose report described how the friendship was crumbled because of greed and betrayal.
Spending 27 years in jail, the anti-apartheid icon was released in 1990 and thereafter decided to collaborate with an artist to produce limited edition paintings that he signed.
The venture by South Africa's first black president was essentially aimed at raising funds for charities bearing his name and espousing various causes including fighting AIDS, helping orphans and advancing rural education.
In a 2002 contract, Mandela signed away his intellectual property and copyright to a company owned by Ayob.
But now it emerged that Ayob and Calder had "mechanically and photographically reproduced innumerable copies which are being sold at exorbitant prices," as what Mandela's lawyer George Bizos has alleged.
"Mandela trusted Ayob so much that he never thought twice when presented with a contract. He always signed, because he trusted his friend: the man who looked after his business and personal affairs," The Star reported.
But in papers filed on Tuesday, Mandela called Ayob "duplicitous" and said Ayob acted "in a mala fide manner, leading me to believe that he would comply with my wishes and requests while pursuing a separate and secret agenda."
"Ayob has persisted in denying my representatives sight of important documents, including those which he claims gave him authority to do what he did," he said.
He said Ayob "has seriously and repeatedly failed in his duty to account to the beneficiaries of the main trusts, including me."
"There no longer exists a trust relationship between us," claimed the elder statesman, who turns 87 in July.
Apart from that, Mandela asked the court to rescind the contract he unwittingly signed with Ayob, and wanted Ayob to produce audited financial statements of the money that went into the trusts and the companies that sold the Mandela artwork.
Ayob and Calder have consistently held that a part of the proceeds from their marketing and sale of the "Madiba (Mandela) artworks" went to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, according to a Business Day report.
Mandela disputed that, and said his name and reputation were and would continue to be harmed by the injurious and unlawful actions.
"The gains which have now been achieved through the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and other charity organizations would be in vain should the actions of Calder and Ayob, and the companies under their control, not be immediately interdicted," he said.
"I am desirous to create and leave a legacy of moral rectitude," Mandela said. Enditem