JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (AFP) – A South African judge postponed a court battle over control of Nelson Mandela's companies Monday, after a lawyer for his daughters withdrew from the case.
Daughters Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela are attempting to remove three of Mandela's long-time friends as directors of two investment firms.
Lawyers for the three men, who were appointed by Mandela -- human rights lawyer George Bizos, Tokyo Sexwale, a former cabinet minister, and his ex-lawyer Bally Chuene -- said the case had been delayed.
"Once they've appointed new legal representation... they must inform the judge and he will put it on the roll again," a spokeswoman for Norton Rose Fulbright told AFP.
It was not immediately clear why lawyer Ismail Ayob -- who has a chequered past with the anti-apartheid icon -- withdrew.
Ayob was himself removed from Mandela's trust after selling fake artwork and pocketing millions of dollars. He paid back nearly $100,000 in a court settlement in 2007.
Mandela's daughters have argued the three remaining trustees were not properly appointed to Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings, companies set up to channel proceeds from the sale of Mandela's iconic handprints, for his family's benefit.
The sale reportedly fetched over $1.7 million when celebrities snapped up the prized prints, which were produced between 2003 and 2005.
Chuene, one of the trustees, has said in court documents Mandela had not wanted his family to run the trust.
Amid a public family spat, Mandela's grandson Mandla has accused his aunts of trying to gain control over the Mandela millions.
"I consider the action by my relatives as a blatant abuse of the elderly," Mandla in a statement on Monday, as his critically-ill grandfather remained in hospital for an eighth week.
"I consider this court action as nothing more than an attempt to loot (Mandela's) monies."
In a separate case, several of Mandela's daughters, grandchildren and his wife won a court order against Mandla to force the reburial of Mandela's three deceased children.
He had moved the remains without their consent.