SOWETO - The sheriff of the court would not auction Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's personal items as planned on Tuesday morning because there were no bidders.
"We are not going to cancel, but there are no bidders. There are none," he said. "It happens."
Earlier, after the house's steel gate was not opened in response to their knocks, three representatives of the Soweto sheriff's office regrouped in their vehicle.
They had been ordered to auction personal items belonging to Madikizela-Mandela to recover a debt owed to Abbots College, which the African National Congress stalwart was to have paid for a grand niece.
Her lawyer said he had made one payment, and that the interest amount was still being discussed. He was not immediately available for an update.
While the sheriffs were waiting, there appeared to be movement behind the gate and the media moved to allow what they thought was a vehicle coming through.
But seconds later, a dark-coloured luxury vehicle sped out of a driveway further up Masela Street, the decoy at the gate fooling the reporters and sheriff's office.
It was not clear who was in the vehicle.
The sheriff was permitted to open the gate with the help of a locksmith, but there were no bidders, just the media, said a sheriff's office official who did not want to be named.
The auction would probably be readvertised, he said, adding that he and his colleagues were waiting for final instructions.
They drove away shortly afterwards, leaving reporters in their wake.
Madikizela-Mandela is putting up a fight to protect her property.