For many black South Africans Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is an icon of the “Struggle” and “Mother of the Nation”. For them she is the fiery wife of Nelson Mandela, famous for her chant about setting blacks free with matches and necklacing them with black tyres. Ironically no whites were burnt to death this way, only moderate blacks, and indeed in recent years many a black man has called Nelson mandela himself a traitor of the people.
But in ANC circles Winnie has been ostracized, unexpectedly divorced by Nelson Mandela, dropped from the Cabinet, publicly snubbed by Thabo Mbeki on national TV, and removed from her position as President of the ANC Women’s League.
What went wrong between Winnie Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC)? Front National SA did some digging in the archives and what they came up with is enough reason to justify Nelson Mandela and the then new ANC government’s reaction to the so called “Mother of the Nation”….as soon as they laid their hands on the security files in government!
DOUBLE AGENT AND FLIRTY HONEY TRAP?
Azar Cachalia, Nelson Mandela’s lifelong friend and then the new head of the Secretariat for Safety and Security, articulated the concerns in one single, short statement to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, : “Just about everyone seemed to be aware that there were guerrillas and arms in the Mandela house. Yet, she was neither arrested nor questioned by the police. Some members of the community held the view that Mrs Mandela (as she was then known) was herself working with the police.”
In January 1987, two men were murdered by the Umkhonto we Sizwe comrade Oupa Seheri. In his court testimony it states that: “On the night in question he left an AK-47 rifle under Zinzi’s (Winnie’s daughter) bed in the Mandela house in Orlando and took a Scorpion pistol with him. Seheri went to a Soweto shebeen where he got drunk. An altercation took place there between Seheri and Xola Mokhaula. Seheri went back to the Mandela home, collected the AK-47 and, accompanied by several members of the “Mandela Football Club”, proceeded to hunt down Mokhaula. Before the night was out Seheri had killed Mokhaula and one of his friends, recovered the pistol and returned to the Mandela home. Police discovered the pistol in Zinzi’s bedroom and Seheri was tried and convicted of murder”.
Winnie Mandela was NEVER questioned by the police about the incident and also not charged in spite of the terrorist weapons which were found in her house. Her car was used by Seheri in the killing spree, and Seheri was in a relationship with Zinzi her daughter, all this during a time when the Apartheid government was still in charge!
Jerry Richardson, manager of the deceptively named “Mandela Mandela Football Club”, testified under oath that he was a police informer since 1988. Richardson was charged with the murder of two men as instructed by Winnie. In his testimony, Richardson reveals an interesting piece of information: “Richardson testified that Winnie had a close relationship with Paul Erasmus, who was a key man in the Witwatersrand branch of Stratkom, a police unit. Richardson claims that he once saw Erasmus leave Madikizela-Mandela’s bedroom in the early morning hours.”
A certain Mabotha, one of Winnie Mandela’s young lovers, was thereafter arrested for a double murder. But instead of questioning Mabotha for the obvious part of Winnie Mandela’s role in the murders, he was handed over to Eugene de Kock and he “disappeared”. De Kock later testified before the Truth Commission that Mabotha was blown up with explosives. Yet again, the police showed no interest to investigate or to charge Winnie.
In January 1990, a certain Katiza Cebekhulu witnessed during the trial of someone named Sithole, who was Zinzi’s new lover, that Sithole had hidden terrorist weapons in the trunk of Winnie Mandela’s car. Sithole was subsequently found dead in his cell and had allegedly hung himself in the police district office in Johannesburg, with his belt and shoelaces. Yet another witness against Winnie Mandela was dead, and once again she was not questioned nor charged.
But the most notable, and infamous case where Winnie Mandela was involved, was the murder of 14-year-old Stompie Seipei. When Winnie’s longtime girlfriend Xoliswa Falati was interviewed by the Truth Commission, Falati said: “Winnie Mandela had a relationship with a Security Branch officer, Paul Erasmus, who was seen going into her room “late at night”.
PAUL ERASMUS: Paul Erasmus was the police officer from StratKom who was tasked with looking after Winnie Mandela at a house in Brandfort in the Free State to which Winnie was banned by the South African Government. He testified before the Truth Commission that he was instructed to spread disinformation about Winnie, and to monitor her movements and telephone calls.
After the 1994 “Rainbow Election” there was an interesting development where Paul Erasmus was separated from his wife and complained that his family was very divided about him.
Further, in March 1999, there was a birthday party at Winnie’s house in Soweto for one of her grandchildren. Nelson Mandela had just finally divorced her. To the surprise of all present, a slightly inebriated Winnie took off her gold wedding ring with diamonds, which Nelson Mandela gave to her 41 years ago as a wedding ring … and give it to a specific 13-year-old white girl attending the party: Candice Erasmus. Candice is Paul Erasmus’s daughter from his crumbling marriage.
John Yeld, journalist from the Cape Argus, and other reporters, found it so strange when a guest at the party told the media about it, yet accepted Candice’s father’s explanation that: “They are working together. Erasmus claims they see each other frequently to work on various projects from help for the disabled to business ventures he declined to discuss. They even teamed up to back a clinic offering a controversial treatment for Aids and other diseases in which the blood is oxygenated”.
“This thing with Winnie has really divided my family and friends. It is very hard to make them understand she is not a monster. My ancestors are turning in their graves.”
This is the troublesome saga of Winnie Mandela and Paul Erasmus, the former security police officer that let all witnesses against her “disappear”, and allowed police dockets against her to “disappear”. This is the saga of witnesses here and there, who let things drop.
What exactly did Cachalia and Nelson Mandela see in the State Security Archives in 1994? Only Cachalia, Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela and Paul Erasmus will know. And none will speak.
What the truth is that lies behind all this subterfuge and subversion, no one will ever know. But Nelson Mandela, Cachalia. The Helen Suzman Foundation and Mbeki were clearly not impressed with Winnie Mandela…
by Hannes Engelbrecht