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December 05, 1997 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-12-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Mande1a
on wron
The V ashington Post
)HANNESBURG, South Africa --
Accused of involvement in murder and
torture committed by her former body-
guards, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
publicly defended herself for the first
time yesterday, boldly telling South
Africa's truth commission that all alle-
gations against her are "fabrications."
In nearly 10 hours of combative testi-
mony, the former wife of President
Nelson Mandela lambasted her detrac-
t* within the anti-apartheid move-
ment, saying that most who testified
against her told "lies." She took pot-
shots at the government, said security
forces are surveilling her and accused
the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission of trying to discredit her
id for high office.
Three dozen witnesses testified in
nine days of hearings that told of a
do en murders, several assaults and
a etions and a general reign of terror
associated with Madikizela-Mandela
and her protection squad, euphemisti-

NATION/WORLD

The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 5, 1997- 9

idefends herself
gdoing charges

tally named the Mandela United
Football Club. But after a day of deny-
ing even the most minor allegations
against her, Madikizela-Mandela
offered no hand of reconciliation to
assembled victims of her protection
force until Archbishop Desmond
Tutu, the truth commission chairperson,
begged her to do so.
Invoking a historic bond of the
Mandela and Tutu family names in the
Soweto community, Tutu said that
something in Madikizela-Mandela's
once-great life had gone "horribly,
badly wrong. I beg you, I beg you, I beg
you. Please. You are a great person. You
don't know how your greatness would
be enhanced if you said "Sorry'."
Absolute silence spread through the
packed hall of the Johannesburg
Institute of Social Services, where the
hearings were held. After a long pause,
Madikizela-Mandela finally responded.
She apologized to the families of her
club's most brutally slain victims. They
include Moeketsi "Stompie" Seipei, 14,
who was beaten nearly to death at her

home in 1988, then fatally stabbed in
the neck.
"I am saying it is true: Things went
horribly wrong," Madikizela-Mandela
said, the sting of the day-long hearing
absent from her voice. "For that I am
deeply sorry."
Madikizela-Mandela's past as an
anti-apartheid heroine, combined with
her aspirations to edge closer to the
levers of power, have put the accusa-
tions leveled against her before the truth
commission onto some of the most
hotly debated terrain of the new South
Africa. As her defiant stand yesterday
demonstrated, she has come to symbol-
ize for many the fire of the anti-
apartheid movement, while for others
she has raised the uncomfortable
specter of questionable conduct during
the chaos of the late t 980s, when the
black struggle against white ninority
rule was at a fever pitch.
For that period, and the abuses com-
mitted in the Madikizela-Mandela
name, the truth commission sought
some kind of accountability, a major

AP PH0

Joyce Seipei, mother of a murdered 14-year-old activist, is hugged by Winnie Mandikizela-Mandela at a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission meeting yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa.

goal of its two-year mission to bring out bility for her security fare, whose
abuses committed by blacks and whites members lived on her property in the
alike during the anti-apartheid conflict. black township of Soweto, where they
But in testimony broadcast live, allegedly tortured suspected informers
Madikizela-Mandela took no responsi- anid plotted a series .o fnurders that

struck fear into Soweto's heart.
[he truth commnllission's findings on
Madikizela-Mandela and her now-
defunct security force will be issued next
year as part of the body's overall report.

0r
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U

m -

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