Jeff Cronenweth’s wife accused of forging Mandela book

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In a four-part series, UnCensored brings you the story of the alleged forgery of a manuscript on the views of South Africa’s children about the late former President Nelson Mandela 

jeff-300x240What could have been a beautiful story about what South African children thought about Mandela way back in 1998 has morphed into one fat conspiracy involving allegations of fraud, forgery and a whole lot of lies.

On 28 August 2001, Jan Willem (JV) Esterhuyse took his life in a London flat where he had been raising funds for his book project, Mandela with Love. His belongings (three suits he packed to London a year before when he thought he would spend only two weeks, his manuscript and documentation related to it) were returned to his family.

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Fast forward to 2010. The wife of cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth is accused of publishing Esterhuyse’s manuscript in her name and under a different title after his death.

The South African born Tyne Doyle, whose real name is Tanya, allegedly published a carbon copy of her former live-in lover’s manuscript “Mandela with Love”. Doyle’s “The Children’s Mandela” was published in 2010 to much media acclaim and was described as a break from the litany of books that had been written about democratic South Africa’s first president.

The background to the book has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster movie featuring names of some of the world’s most influential people: The iconic later former President Nelson Mandela, highest paid CEO in the banking sector, Nedbank’s Mike Brown, SA’s second richest man Johan Rupert, Nelson Mandela Foundation (both here and in Britain) and two of its former CEOs Jeremy Rattcliffe and author Achmat Dangor; SA’s film producer Anant Singh; Nedbank’s Vice Chairman of the board Michael Katz who is also the chairman of Nedbank’s legal firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS) and a former Nelson Mandela trustee; the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); and there are many more.

Katz, among the many positions he holds, is a contributor to the King Code of Governance and yet his involvement with Nedbank, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and ENS wreaks of conflict of interest.

The book is published by Iain Bryant of Future by Design and is sponsored by Nedbank. Both parties including Nedbank’s Brown, are aware of the five year battle by the Esterhuyse family to restore the copyright to the rightful owner.

From the inspiration of The Children’s Mandela, right down to the layout, design and content, Doyle’s book presents a string of contradictions and questions to which she would not respond.

Doyle now lives with husband Cronenweth in Los Angeles, California. Cronenweth is best known for his role as director of photography on the David Fincher films, Fight Club, The Social Network and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He has been nominated for Academy Award for Best Cinematography for the latter two movies.

Inspiration of the book

Doyle would not say which advertisement inspired her to start the project, as claimed on The Children’s Mandela website.

The website had said she had been working on an advertisement at the time of Mandela’s 80th birthday and had approached students on their views on a product when the idea to use a similar approach about the former statesman came to her. The website has since UnCensored’s investigation been shut down.

UPDATE: an archived version of the site can be found here: https://web.archive.org/web/20160309200736/http://thechildrensmandela.co.za/

“Madiba’s birthday followed shortly afterward, and the concept of The Children’s Mandela was seeded and the hard work began in earnest”, she’s quoted on the website. Mandela’s 80th birthday was on 18 July 1998. In interviews on television programmes, SABC’s Expresso and eNCA’s Sunrise, Bryant who is described as the co-author by both himself and the programmes’ hosts, says an advertisement for a petroleum company triggered the idea for the book. Doyle worked as a copywriter for Bosman Johnson FCB at the time and the only petroleum client the company had was Caltex. According to Ornico, a company that keeps records of adverts that have been produced, there was no petroleum advert around Mandela’s 80th birthday. The first petroleum advert flighted in 1998 was on 7 April and the next was on 23 September.

By the time Doyle’s “hard work” began, Esterhuyse had the previous year already, developed the manuscript and had approached the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund for an endorsement which he was granted in 1999.

It all started in 1997 when Esterhyse compiled a questionnaire of 25 questions about Mandela and had it distributed to schools around South Africa. The idea was to put their answers into a book which he titled “Mandela with Love.” UnCensored has seen the boxes of responses from the pupils. They date back to May 1998 and they have all been addressed to JV Esterhuyse. Doyle would neither provide the evidence of the original copies of the responses to her questions nor the list of schools to which she had sent her questions. Her publisher said he was only a publisher and referred all questions back to her.

Mandela with Love and The Children’s Mandela are identical in style, artwork, and content. There are slight modifications throughout the books. For example, the children’s names in Mandela with Love include surnames which have been removed in The Children’s Mandela; the covers are identical in style and some of the original letters which were hand-drawn by pupils of the Herschel Girls School in Capetown have been used in both covers;  and the content is exactly the same with the only difference being the order in which it is placed in the books. Forensic expert, Dr David Klatsow, says it’s “scientifically impossible that Doyle’s book was original in both concept and content”.

In an interview with The Citizen’s Sibusiso Mkwanazi on 8 December 2010, Doyle said the children didn’t write their surnames. “As the children submitted their answers on a first name basis only, my only wish was that their teachers read their answers first.” Originals of the responses contradict her statement.

Tarryn’s “A story about Madiba Nelson Mandela” is the first of such responses in The Children’s Mandela but Doyle has left-out the surname, Tamsen Prince. To the question: “Why was he sent to prison?” Justin Berstein answered: “He went into a white toilet.” His surname is left out in The Children’s Mandela. Lauren Brand’s answer to the same question is: “because he was drawing on the wall”. Her surname is also left-out of Doyle’s book. There are many more such examples throughout the book.

A chapter changed to past tense

One of the questions Esterhuyse asked was: What’s the thing he likes most about being president of South Africa and why?” Doyle’s book asks: “What did he like most about being the President of South Africa?” The net effect of this manipulation is that an entire chapter has been changed into past tense. Rose Ashby (8yrs old) responded to Esterhuyse thus: “He likes all the people in the land and all the children too. Sumtims the gronups to”.

In The Children’s Mandela, Rose (no surname) says: “He liked all the people in the land and all the children too. Sumtims the gronups to”.

Incorrect attribution of names

Some names and the responses have been changed or attributed to different names. To the question: If you saw him in the street, what would you do or say? Gomotsegang whose name has been changed to Gomotso in the book says: “Greet him nice as a comrade, ask something about the future”.

Dilliza’s original response has been attributed to Dudu and he no longer lives in Mount Fletcher and lives in Claremont. Dilliza had also left a contact number for Mandela which has been removed.

Replication of the covers

Esterhuyse had also asked pupils of Herschel Girl’s School in Capetown, to each draw a letter of the title of his book, Mandela with Love. The pupils drew colourful letters which would form the cover design. Kylie Pettit in Grade 3a, drew the A. Zodwa in Grade 3a, drew the O, and so forth. UnCensored has seen the hand-drawn artwork with the children’s names written on the back of them.

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What proof is there that “Mandela with Love” was the original manuscript from which emerged “The Children’s Mandela?” 

Lindy Truswell went to Herschel Girls School with Doyle. She was the graphic artist that worked on the Mandela With Love manuscript. She confirmed that Doyle, in the company of Bryant, had approached her years later to redesign the “Mandela With Love” manuscript, now titled “The Children’s Mandela”. She said she declined as she was owed a lot of money for the original project and confirmed she had handed them the disc with the original design and layout.

Truswell also confirmed that she had worked solely with Esterhuyse on “Mandela with Love” and had invoiced him alone. She however claimed  she thought the book project “Mandela with Love” was a joint venture belonging to the two lovers but  “didn’t know that JV (Esterhuyse) would not be credited in The Children’s Mandela”.

Niel, Esterhuyse’s brother, has for the past six years waged a battle to have the rightful author of the book credited. In his possession are boxes of the original letters from the children who answered a series of questions his brother had put to them about Mandela and the final manuscript. In the process, he’s lost his law firm, house and other possessions. The last six years have also cost him his career. “I saw what lawyers do through my interaction with Nedbank and could no longer be part of that profession”.

The Esterhuyse family appointed ENS as lawyers at one point and they didn’t disclose Nedbank was a client.

In a letter from the bank’s attorneys, Adams&Adams, in 2011, Nedbank says it is sympathetic but their client has just been a sponsor of the book and “Our client’s rights and obligations in terms of the agreement are very limited and it is, in fact, precluded from performing any of the actions that would constitute infringement of copyright”.

Source: Uncensored Opinion
Jeff Cronenweth’s wife accused of forging Mandela book


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  1. LP LOUW says:

    Nelson Mandela’s legacy is big buisiness. Sad that such obvious plagiarism takes “walk such a long road ” to the Law. Look forward to the outcome of this saga.

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