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Miriam Makeba’s family ‘win rights’ to singer’s music

The family of the late singer South African singer Miriam Makeba, known as Mama Africa, has won a legal victory over her former business manager for control of her legacy, South African daily Independent Online reports.

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Miriam Makeba died from a heart attack in 2008 after collapsing during a performance in Italy. Photo: BBC


Siyandisa Music, which is the company of business manager Graeme Gilfillan, had gone to a high court in Pretoria to block Makeba’s two grandchildren, Lumumba and Zenzile Lee, and Miriam Makeba Foundation from being the proprietors of her intellectual property and associated rights.

Siyandisa Music also wanted the South African Hall of Fame to be blocked from inducting Ms Makeba into the hall of fame as it lacked prior written approval from the company.

Judge Hans Fabricius ruled that Siyandisa Music’s application had failed over a technical point of law in South Africa’s Trust Property Control Act.

The company alleged its rights to her legacy stemmed from Ms Makeba taking steps to commercialise her intellectual property during her lifetime, which would persist after her death.

But Ms Makeba’s family argues that the Grammy award-winning artist had signed an allegedly “fictitious” licence contract, called ZM Makeba Trust, with Siyandisa Music.

The alleged contract was signed by Makeba and one of her grandchildren, Dumisani, according to Zenzile Lee.

The Judge said Siyandisa Music could launch another application, based on other grounds, if it wanted to.

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