JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Nelson Mandela has ordered that there should be no witch-hunt after black youngsters burned down his home, his lawyer said on Friday.
The jailed black nationalist, in a message relayed by Ismail Ayob at a news conference here, was shocked by the news that his home in Johannesburg's Soweto township was gutted by fire on Thursday.
"His first question was whether anyone had been hurt," said Ayob, who visited Mandela in Cape Town's Pollsmoor Prison on Thursday.
"He ordered that there should be no prosecution or witch-hunt. It is a matter that will be resolved by the people of Soweto," he said.
Police and eyewitnesses said Thursday that the small brick house was set on fire by a gang of youths from a nearby school who smashed windows and poured gasoline through all four rooms.
"Mr. Mandela was not the object of the attack," Ayob said. "Mrs. Mandela, the Mandela family were not the objects of the attack."
Ayob declined to comment on reports that the fire was a result of rivalry between members of a football team known as Mandela United and youths from a local gang.
Ayob said Mandela had instructed that no report should be made to police about the fire.
"Everything was destroyed. The house was utterly destroyed," Ayob said, adding that the loss included mementos, letters and documents belonging to Mandela, who has been in prison since 1962.
He said the house will be rebuilt over the next few weeks. Winnie Mandela, her daughter, Zinzi, 27, and her two grandchildren will apparently stay with friends and not move into the luxury mansion she had recently built in a section of Soweto known as Beverly Hills.