Desmond Tutu, the venerated South African archbishop, and his wife Leah have instigated a criminal prosecution against their granddaughter over what they claim is “malicious damage” to a property.
Ziyanda Palesa Tutu, 30, who describes herself as a qualified wine judge and “Desmond Tutu’s first grandchild”, was expected to hand herself over to police on Friday.
“We are waging a war,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Truths will be revealed”.
Archbishop Tutu – who once described family as being “God’s gift to you, as you are to them” – confirmed the police investigation in a statement released by the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. “We are naturally distressed and deeply saddened,” it said, adding that the foundation “hopes and prays that the family will soon be able to put this incident behind it”.
Ziyanda Palesa Tutu, daughter of Desmond Tutu’s son, Trevor, said on Twitter that she would hand herself in to the police
Police in the Western Cape province, where Desmond Tutu lives, indicated that Leah Tutu had initiated the complaint. “This office can confirm that a malicious damage to property case was opened for investigation by the complainant against her granddaughter.”
More than 12 hours after her first tweet on Tuesday, Ziyanda Tutu added: “I am regrouping but @TheDesmondTutu & granny Leah I will be handing myself in on Friday. # TututrialbyMedia.”
On Thursday she added: “Bn receiving requests 4 interviews regarding this @TheDesmondTutu Leah Tutu thing. I’m 2emotional right now bt will talk when I’m ready.”
Police opened the case on 7 May. In an interview with The Star newspaper yesterday, Ziyanda Tutu said: “I am still trying to sort things out before I go to the police.”
She added: “For years there has been animosity against me and now my grandparents have blown this matter out of proportion. This whole thing could have been avoided and kept out of the public.”
Her grandfather played an instrumental role in the struggle against apartheid, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts. Known as “the Arch” by South Africans, Archbishop Tutu stepped down as the chair of the Elders, a group of former leaders who help resolve global disputes, two years ago. He still makes public appearances around the world.
Ziyanda Tutu is reported to be the daughter of the couple’s only son, Trevor. He was said to have been left “upset” at the dispute.
In 1991, Trevor Tutu was jailed for three years for threatening to explode a bomb on board an aircraft in 1989. In an interview with The New York Times in 2010, Archbishop Tutu was asked about his son.
“He’s a very gifted person, but you see a little bit how God must feel about us because he has really undermined his own life by his abuse of alcohol,” he said.
“When he’s not under the influence, he’s incredibly wonderful, he really is, and it makes you weep to see how he then is almost intent on destroying himself.”