The family of Nelson Mandela is seeking to present a united front in a dispute with longtime associates of the former South African president over control of two companies.

In a statement released Thursday, Mandela's grandchildren said the associates, including lawyer George Bizos, have portrayed the Mandela family as "insensitive money-grabbers."

The statement says most of the grandchildren are "gainfully employed" and run their own projects.

Two daughters of 94-year-old Mandela, an iconic fighter against racist white rule, have opened a court case against Bizos and associates, saying they should not remain directors of two companies whose proceeds are supposed to benefit the Mandela family.

Bizos says he is a longtime supporter of the Mandela family, and that he got involved in the companies on Mandela's instructions.