Saturday, 14 December 2013
You Shall Be Judged By The Company You Keep
As I sat watching the news last Thursday, I was sickened by the sight of Winnie Mandela being interviewed by the reporter and made a few crude remarks out loud ending with "get that thing off the tele". The person in whose house I was, asked "why, what has she done"? I could barely get the words out as I tried to explain the gruesome truth, but the response from my host was "I don't know about that". I haven't owned a TV for seven years because I refuse to pay for a license to be told lies and pay the wages of the sick people working for the likes of the BBC, ITV and other channels. Thanks to online encyclopedias we can find out most things we want to know even though they too can't be guaranteed to be totally impartial. Below is one such source of information: - Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Member of South-African Parliament Incumbent Assumed office May 2009 First Lady of South Africa In office 1994–1996 Winnie Madikizela–Mandela (born Nomzamo Winfreda Zanyiwe Madikizela; 26 September 1936) is a South African politician who has held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women's League. She is a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee. Although she was still married to Nelson Mandela at the time of his becoming president of South Africa in May 1994, the couple had separated two years earlier. Their divorce was finalised on 19 March 1996, with an unspecified out-of-court settlement. Her attempt to obtain a settlement up to US$5 million, half of what she claimed her ex-husband was worth, was dismissed when she failed to appear in court for a settlement hearing. A controversial activist, she is popular among her supporters, who refer to her as the 'Mother of the Nation', yet reviled by others after the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission found "Ms Winnie Madikizela Mandela politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights", concluding that she had personally been responsible for the murder, torture, abduction and assault of numerous men, women and children, as well as indirectly responsible for even larger number of such crimes. In March 2009, the Independent Electoral Commission ruled that Madikizela-Mandela, selected as an ANC candidate, could run in the April 2009 general election, despite her suspended jail sentence for fraud. Early life This section, except for one footnote does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2013) Her Xhosa name is Nomzamo ("She who tries"). She was born in the village of eMbongweni, Bizana, Pondoland, in what is now South Africa's Eastern Cape Province. She held a number of jobs in various parts of what was then the Bantustan of Transkei, including with the Transkei government, living at various times in Bizana, Shawbury and Johannesburg. Despite restrictions on education of blacks during apartheid, she earned a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg, and several years later earned a Bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand. She met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957. They married in 1958 and had two daughters, Zenani (born 1959) and Zindzi (born 1960). In June 2010, she was treated for shock after the death of her great granddaughter, Zenani, who was killed in a car accident on the eve of the opening of South Africa's World Cup. She emerged as a leading opponent of the white minority rule government during the later years of her husband's imprisonment (August 1963 – February 1990). For many of those years, she was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area, except for the times she was allowed to visit her husband at the prison on Robben Island. Beginning in 1969, she spent eighteen months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. In a leaked letter to Jacob Zuma in October 2008, just-resigned President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki alluded to the role the ANC had created for her in its anti-apartheid activism: In the context of the global struggle for the release of political prisoners in our country, our movement took a deliberate decision to profile Nelson Mandela as the representative personality of these prisoners, and therefore to use his personal political biography, including the persecution of his then wife, Winnie Mandela, dramatically to present to the world and the South African community the brutality of the apartheid system. Criminal convictions and findings of criminal behaviourHer reputation was damaged by such rhetoric as that displayed in a speech she gave in Munsieville on 13 April 1986, where she endorsed the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using tyres and petrol) by saying: " With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country." Further tarnishing her reputation were accusations by her bodyguard, Jerry Musivuzi Richardson, that she had ordered kidnapping and murder. On 29 December 1988, Richardson, who was coach of the Mandela United Football Club (MUFC), which acted as Mrs. Mandela's personal security detail, abducted 14-year-old James Seipei (also known as Stompie Moeketsi) and three other youths from the home of a Methodist minister, Rev. Paul Verryn, claiming she had the youths taken to her home because she suspected the reverend was sexually abusing them. The four were beaten to get them to admit to having had sex with the minister. Seipei was accused of being an informer, and his body later found in a field with stab wounds to the throat on 6 January 1989. In 1991, she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault in connection with the death of Seipei. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal. The final report of the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission, issued in 1998, found "Ms Winnie Madikizela Mandela politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights committed by the MUFC" and that she "was responsible, by omission, for the commission of gross violations of human rights." In 1992, she was accused of ordering the murder of Dr. Abu-Baker Asvat, a family friend who had examined Seipei at Mandela's house, after Seipei had been abducted but before he had been killed. Mandela's role was later probed as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, in 1997. She was said to have paid the equivalent of $8,000 and supplied the firearm used in the killing, which took place on 27 January 1989. The hearings were later adjourned amid claims that witnesses were being intimidated on Winnie Mandela's orders. Transition to democracy Winnie Mandela with Nelson Mandela, Alberto Chissano and his daughter Cidalia in Museu Galeria Chissano, Mozambique, 1990During South Africa's transition to democracy, she adopted a far less conciliatory and compromising attitude than her husband toward the white community. Despite being on her husband's arm when he was released in 1990, the first time the two had been seen in public for nearly thirty years, the Mandelas' 38-year marriage ended when they separated in April 1992 after it was revealed she had been unfaithful to her husband during his imprisonment. The couple divorced in March 1996. She then adopted the surname Madikizela-Mandela. Appointed Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in the first post-Apartheid government (May 1994), she was dismissed eleven months later following allegations of corruption. She remained extremely popular among many ANC supporters, however. In December 1993 and April 1997, she was elected president of the ANC Women's League, although she withdrew her candidacy for ANC Deputy President at the movement's Mafikeng conference in December 1997. Earlier in 1997, she appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Archbishop Desmond Tutu as chairman of the commission recognised her importance in the anti-apartheid struggle, but exhorted her to apologise and to admit her mistakes. In a guarded response, she admitted "things went horribly wrong". On 24 April 2003, Winnie Mandela was found guilty on 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft, and her broker, Addy Moolman, was convicted on 58 counts of fraud and 25 of theft. Both had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which related to money taken from loan applicants' accounts for a funeral fund, but from which the applicants did not benefit. Madikizela-Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison. Shortly after the conviction, she resigned from all leadership positions in the ANC, including her parliamentary seat and the presidency of the ANC Women's League. In July 2004, an appeal judge of the Pretoria High Court ruled that "the crimes were not committed for personal gain". The judge overturned the conviction for theft, but upheld the one for fraud, handing her a three years and six months suspended sentence. In June 2007, the Canadian High Commission in South Africa declined to grant Winnie Mandela a visa to travel to Toronto, Canada, where she was scheduled to attend a gala fundraising concert organised by arts organisation MusicaNoir, which included the world premiere of The Passion of Winnie, an opera based on her life.