Facing the Past
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PHIL PONCE: Today was Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s turn to be heard. Madikizela-Mandela is accused of taking part in murder and assault. The former wife of South African President Nelson Mandela is a political force in her own right in South Africa and within the African National Congress Party. South Africa’s so-called “Mother of the Nation” who now also uses her maiden name, Madikizela, is accused of using her former bodyguards in a reign of violence that included torture and murder.
Last week, South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, began public hearings in the most dramatic case it has heard thus far. New allegations link Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to the murder of a 14-year-old South African boy, Moketsie Stompie Seipei. Katiza Cebekhulu, a former Madikizela-Mandela friend, alleged that Winnie, herself, had stabbed the boy because she thought he was a police informer.
KATIZA CEBEKHULU, Former Mandela Friend: (speaking through interpreter) I saw her killing Stompie.
QUESTIONER: Can I just interrupt now. You picked up your hand and you pointed at Mrs. Mandela.
KATIZA CEBEKHULA: (speaking through interpreter) She raised her hand twice and put it down as well in a form of stabbing. And I left immediately into my bedroom. I was scared as to what I was seeing, whether it was a nightmare or what.
PHIL PONCE: Madikizela-Mandela denied the charge.
WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA: Katiza is a mental patient, and he would have hallucinated like that. It was nothing like that.
PHIL PONCE: But dozens of witnesses have testified Madikizela-Mandela, known as “Mommy,” used her power to deadly affect–including her former chief bodyguard, Jerry Richardson, who was convicted of Stompie’s murder in 1990.
JERRY RICHARDSON, Former Chief Bodyguard: (speaking through interpreter) And Mommy was sitting and watching us. I think we threw Stompie about seven times on the air–in the air, and he fell onto the ground. He was tortured so severely that at some state I could see that he would ultimately die. I killed Stompie under the instructions of Mommy. Mommy never killed anyone, but she used us to kill a lot of people. She does not even visit us in prison. She used us.
PHIL PONCE: Madikizela-Mandela steadfastly denied any involvement in the murder.
QUESTIONER: Jerry Richardson says you ordered the killing of Stompie.
WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA: That is ludicrous and the worst lunacy.
PHIL PONCE: Her questioners became increasingly frustrated with her.
QUESTIONER: Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela, please don’t play around.
WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA: I am not playing around.
QUESTIONER: Are you aware he’s got–
WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA: I will not tolerate your speaking to me like that.
PHIL PONCE: Her supporters cheered inside and danced outside, but many questions remain. And today in a dramatic move prompted by Archbishop Tutu the murdered boy’s mother, who had heard days of testimony regarding his brutal death, approached Madikizela, kissed her cheek, and stood by her side. And, as the session ended, the archbishop made another request.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: You are a great person, and you don’t know how your greatness would be enhanced if you were to say, sorry, things went wrong; forgive me. I beg you.
WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA: I am saying it is true things went horribly wrong. I fully agree with that. And for that part of those painful years when things went horribly wrong and we were aware of the factors that led to that, for that, I am deeply sorry.
PHIL PONCE: The Truth & Reconciliation Commission charged with investigating abuses committed on all sides during four decades of apartheid is not a court of law. It cannot find defendants innocent or guilty but can recommend whether or not the matter should be prosecuted in court. Despite the controversy so far, there has been no indication that Madikizela-Mandela plans to withdraw from South African politics. She is running for deputy president of the African National Congress in an election next month.