Zoleka Mandela, the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, has revealed she was sexually abused as a child. The 33-year-old writes about the grief she suffered in a new memoir after losing two children, as well as her battle with breast cancer.
Mandela’s 13-year-old daughter Zenani was killed in a car crash in June 2010. Two days after celebrating her 13th birthday, the great granddaughter of the former South African president died on her way home from the FIFA World Cup Kick Off Concert in Soweto.
Zoleka, who was 10 years old when Nelson Mandela walked free from prison, released her new book of memoirs, When Hope Whispers, today.
The honest account also charts her decade-long battle with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
An excerpt featured in The Times, reveals: ‘From the time I was barely eight years old to the age of 14, I had been sexually abused by some of the adults who should have been looking after me.
“For years I blamed her (her mother Zindzi Mandela) for the physical and sexual abuse I was subjected to as a child,” she said. “My feeling was that if she had been there for me, she could have prevented it and I could have been protected. I have come to realise she probably did the best she could.”
Zoleka’s mother Zindzi Mandela grew up while her father was imprisoned on Robben Island and faced watching as her mother Winnie Madikizela Mandela was thrown into jail as well.
Each of Zindzi’s children had different fathers, with Zoleka recalling her mother could strip and reassemble an AK47 in 38 seconds by the time she was born.Zoleka was told of her eldest child’s death while she was recovering in a Johannesburg clinic, a week after she tried to kill herself while on a cocaine binge.
When Hope Whispers tells that “the biggest part of her died” when she received the news, adding that she wished God had taken her instead.
Zoleka fell pregnant with a baby boy, soon after losing her daughter.
However, baby Zenawe was born premature and died a few days after birth and was buried a year after his sister in June 2011.