WinnieMadikizela-Mandela's burden mounts withrehash of
murder charges, crimes


If her former bodyguard and confessed murderer Jerry Richardson gets amnesty, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former leading symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle, may yet walk another perilous path of trial and prosecution, against the background of Richardson's claims and the declaration by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that, in fact, Winnie had committed some serious crimes and gross violations of human rights. The latest trials will further draw the line between her self-inflicted excesses and the imperative and demands of enforcing the rights of all South Africans, and achieving the objectives of law, order and justice in post-apartheid South Africa. Without the support of her estranged, magnanimous and remarried husband Nelson Mandela, she could never have been elected president of the Women's League of the ANC. In March of 1998, a South African Supreme Court judge declared the 38-year marriage of South African President Nelson Mandela and Winnie officially dissolved. This time, she is on her own with a team of her supporters. Of course, Dr, Mandela will not get involved for many personal reasons.



Jerry Richardson, former chief bodyguard of the former wife of Nelson Mandela, serving a life sentence for various crimes including the murders of a 14-year old South African Black teenager Stompie Seipei, and a woman (Koekie Zwane reportedly shared a romantic relationship with the same same man Winnie was seeing,) has stated on November 29, 1999 that Winnie ordered the killings. She had declared her "innocence" in the past.

The convicted murderer told a hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that in the company of another assassin nicknamed "Killer'', they slit Zwane's throat and Winnie "asked us if we had done the perfect job....'' After he described the killing and dumping of her body at a school yard, Richardson claimed that Winnie told him he had done a "dirty job'' because Zwane's body was dumped where children and other persons could see it.

Richardson, a Black man, is seeking amnesty for his crimes which may be granted by the attorney-general of South Africa. If Richardson gets amnesty, the former leading symbol of anti-apartheid struggle, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela may walk another perilous path of trial and prosecution, against the background of Richardson's claims and the declaration by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which reported that, in fact, Winnie had committed some serious crimes and gross violations of human rights.

Born on September 26, 1936 in Bizana (Transkei), Winnie, recruited Richardson, during the anti-apartheid struggle as the leader of the defunct "Mandela United Football Club" - a sports club which served as a front for some of her bodyguards. Although, she was still married to former South Africa President Mandela when those events took place, no one has ever alleged any links to the famous nationalist. USAfricaonline.com sources in South Africa and the African National Congress say that Stompie's case and the other number of indiscretions by Winnie played major roles in the break down of the Mandelas marriage. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 26 years at Robben Island, beginning at the very early years of their marriage. Winnie is a social worker with a degree in Political Science and International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Regarding the background to her joining the liberation movement, she notes on the African National Congress web site that "It was while working as the first Black medical social worker at Baragwanath Hospital that I started to become politicized.... I started to realise the abject poverty under which most people were forced to live, the appalling conditions created by the inequalities of the system. Above all, I became politically conscious through the research I had carried out in Alexandra township to establish the rate of infantile mortality - it was 10 deaths in every 1,000 births."

This woman of courage and sometimes unruly disposition, became one of the first detainees under Section 6 of the notorious Terrorism Act, in 1969. The ANC records that on May 16, 1977 "she was exiled, taken directly from her prison cell, to Brandfort for nine years. Here her house was bombed twice and she was once again arrested for defying her restriction order and returning to Johannesburg. Winnie Mandela's courage and leadership abilities have triumphed over years of political harassment, severe personal pain and a wave of media controversy to enable her to become the ANC (Women's League) president."

The latest trials will further draw the line between her self-inflicted excesses and the imperative and demands of enforcing the rights of all South Africans, and achieving the objectives of law, order and justice in post-apartheid South Africa. Without the support of her estranged, magnanimous and remarried husband Nelson Mandela (see in picture during the early months of his release from prison with Winnie and Adelaide Tambo in Wembley Stadium in Lodon), she could never have been elected president of the Women's League of the ANC. In March of 1998, a South African Supreme Court judge declared the 38-year marriage of South African President Nelson Mandela and Winnie "officially dissolved." The divorced in 1996.

This time, she is on her own with a team of her supporters. Of course, Dr, Mandela will not get involved for many personal reasons. Also, the issues of murder are far more complicated than political office rewards and sympathy. Plus, the tendered evidence and allegations seem more serious (although in some case questionable). On balance, Winnie's burden may never leave her the same, anymore.


Nwangwu has traveled to South Africa and is the recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, HABJ 1997. He serves as the Founder & Publisher of USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), The Black Business Journal,www.BBJonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com. He covered U.S president Bill Clinton's visit to parts of Africa, March-April 2, 1998. He is writing a book on the experiences of recent African immigrants in the U.S.


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