Mandela’s ex-wife denies interview

Associated Press / March 13, 2010

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JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela’s former wife denied yesterday that she had given an interview to a British newspaper in which she was quoted sharply criticizing the antiapartheid icon.

The London Evening Standard had quoted Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as saying that her former husband had “let us down’’ and that she could not forgive him for accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 alongside white president F.W. De Klerk.

Madikizela-Mandela said she did not grant an interview to the newspaper but she did not specifically deny making the remarks, which created a stir in South Africa after they were carried by local media.

“I will in the coming days deal with what I see as an inexplicable attempt to undermine the unity of my family, the legacy of Nelson Mandela, and the high regard with which the name Mandela is held here and across the globe,’’ Madikizela-Mandela said in a statement distributed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The Evening Standard said the conversation with Madikizela-Mandela was conducted with Nadira Naipaul, wife of Nobel literature laureate V.S. Naipaul.

“Nadira Naipaul is a distinguished journalist who visited Winnie Mandela at home and spoke to her at length about her experiences,’’ the newspaper said in a statement. “We cannot understand Winnie Mandela’s denial of an event and conversation which clearly took place.’’