Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Charges against 'Winnie cops' dropped
Charges against 'Winnie cops' dropped
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (File, Sapa)
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Johannesburg - Criminal charges have been dropped against two policemen involved in an altercation with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her bodyguards, trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday.
The charges were withdrawn by the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court.
"Solidarity will investigate the possibility of laying a charge of malicious prosecution against Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguard Jacob Monare," the union's spokesperson Dirk Hermann said.
The altercation happened in 2010 when Warrant Officer Jannie Odendaal and Constable Abel Twala stopped Madikizela-Mandela's car because it was reportedly being driven recklessly at 150km/h.
An argument ensued. Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguards brought charges of pointing of a firearm and intimidation against the policemen. They were suspended with full benefits.
Hermann said the initial charges against Madikizela-Mandela and her bodyguards should be re-investigated.
Charges of obstruction of justice against Madikizela-Mandela, and of assault and reckless or negligent driving against Monare and the driver were dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said Hermann.
"The NPA dropped the charges against them in 2011, while Odendaal and Twala were prosecuted," he said.
The two policemen had appeared in court on numerous occasions, but the case was postponed because the docket was not available.
The senior State prosecutor decided to withdraw the charges against them on Wednesday.
"We are now investigating the possibility of charging Monare with malicious prosecution because of the possibility of political interference," said Hermann.
The NPA in Johannesburg could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Read more on: police | solidarity | dirk hermann | winnie madikizela-mandela | johannesburg
Winnie Drops Out Of Mandela Celebration
No Show: Winnie was "too exhausted" to recreate famous walk
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has dropped out of celebrations honoring the 20th anniversary of her ex-husband and former South African president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, saying it was “too exhaustive” for her.
Madikizela-Mandela was scheduled to lead a 500-meter march from the former Victor Verster prison in Paarl, Western Cape, a recreation of the walk she took with her ex-husband after he was released from prison 20 years ago.
No other details about her condition have been released to the media by the ANC.
“Something very strange has been going on,” one source told The UK Times Online. Wild horses would not keep Winnie away from an event like that. Everyone knows that if Mandela himself went, front-page news was guaranteed,”
Mandela’s former wife was also expected to address a rally attended by African National Congress veterans, including Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg.
Nelson Mandela did not attend the commemorative march either, reported The Guardian, much to the dismay of his supporters. Mandela, now 91 years old, is reportedly too frail to make the jaunt. Although he rarely makes public appearances these days, Mandela did attend the ANC rally afterward.
Madikizela-Mandela has been a constant source of controversy for the ANC. After Mandela’s 1990 release, details of her infidelity exploded onto South African newspapers, and the couple divorced. Ever since, ANC propagandists have been doing double-duty in Madikizela-Mandela’s image control department, in an effort to portray Nelson Mandela as “The Father of South Africa.”
Necklaced: 14-yr-old Stompie Moeketsi
In 1985 Madikizela-Mandela made an infamous speech where she declared, “With our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” The term “necklacing” refers to the practice of setting a tire filled with gasoline around a person’s head and then setting it ablaze. Her personal bodyguard, the innocuous-sounding Nelson Mandela Football Club, was responsible for many acts of intimidation, including necklacing, against Black opponents of Mandela. Most infamously was the necklacing death of 14-year-old activist Stompie Moeketsi in 1988.
Madikizela-Mandela was eventually tied to the murders, and later confessed to them.
Winnie Mandela Admits to Stompie Murder
Madikizela-Mandela has also been convicted for kidnapping and fraud.
Despite the scandals, the ANC made her the 5th selection on their MP list for the general election last year, a move roundly condemned by political rival Helen Zille.
Andrew Feinstein, a former African National Congress MP who resigned in protest over alleged government corruption, said about the anniversary: “My overwhelming sense when I look at South Africa today is just how far we as the ANC and South Africa have fallen from the heady days of Mandela’s years in office. It was an inspiring example of occupying the moral high ground. That’s now gone and I suppose I look at it with a sense of sadness.
Winnie: 'Africa's Evita'
By Keith Somerville
BBC News Online
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is still one of the most controversial political figures in South Africa.
Her conviction on fraud and theft charges just adds another chapter to the already dramatic story of the woman once called the "mother of the Nation" by many black South Africans but now called the "mugger of the Nation" by some.
She denied the fraud, characterising them as the latest part of a long-running campaign to drag her name through the mud.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela retains massive grass-roots support
Still an MP for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Ms Madikizela-Mandela has frequently come into conflict with President Thabo Mbeki and the ANC leadership but has retained support among poor, grassroots supporters of the party.
She recently offered to go to Iraq as a human shield in case of a United States-led war.
Born at Bizana in the Transkei, she met the leading ANC activist Nelson Mandela in 1957. He was already married but the marriage was breaking up.
They married in 1958 but were destined to have little time together as political activism and a period in hiding kept Nelson Mandela apart from her.
He was jailed for life in 1964 and only released in 1990.
While he was in prison, she took on an increasingly political role, partly because of constant harassment by the South African security police.
She became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid and a rallying point for poor, black township residents who resisted apartheid.
This led to her being dubbed the "Mother of the Nation".
Her resistance to harassment and championing of the anti-apartheid cause led to periods of imprisonment from 1969, much of it spent in solitary confinement.
In 1976, the year of the Soweto riots, she was banished from the township to a remote rural area. This did not end her problems and at one stage her house was burned down.
Stompie, 14, was killed during the struggle against apartheid
Suspicion fell on the South African security forces.
By the mid-1980s and the start of a long period of township militancy against the white government of President PW Botha, she was back in Soweto and at the heart of the struggle.
Her image and activism drew to her many anti-apartheid activists, including a group of young men who became her personal bodyguards.
They were known as the Mandela United Football Club.
Her prominence led to great influence over young, radical township activists but also growing controversy.
As the activists turned on suspected police informers or collaborators, the use of rubber tyres filled with petrol as brutal murder weapons became widespread.
Hung round the necks of the accused and then ignited, they became known as "necklaces" and drew criticism even from the ranks of anti-apartheid campaigners.
At one township rally, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela praised activists who with their "necklaces" were fighting apartheid.
Even greater controversy came when she was charged by senior anti-apartheid activists with involvement in the killing of a 14-year-old township militant, Stompie Seipei.
Disgrace and divorce
Stompie had been seized by Ms Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguards in 1989 and later found dead.
Members of the ANC leadership accused her of being behind the killing and of conducting a virtual reign of terror in parts of Soweto.
The Mandelas were married for 38 years
From prison, Nelson Mandela continued to support his wife.
In 1991, after his release, she was charged with the assault and kidnapping of Stompie Seipei and one of her bodyguards was charged with his murder.
She denied the allegations but was found guilty of kidnapping and sentenced to six years imprisonment.
This was reduced to a fine by an appeal court.
Her marriage to Nelson Mandela broke down in the years after his release and they were divorced in 1996.
President Mandela charged her with adultery.
Her split from Nelson Mandela did little to harm her political standing among poor, black South Africans. In the 1994 and 1999 elections, she was elected as an ANC MP and remains a leader of the ANC Women's League.
At the same time, in a career strikingly like that of the Argentine politician Eva Peron, she became known for an increasingly lavish lifestyle.
When she testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, she arrived at the hearings in a white Mercedes limousine surrounded by bodyguards.
At the commission, ANC members and ordinary township residents accused her of attacks on opponents, of ordering Stompie Seipei's murder and of being guilty of involvement in other murders.
She vehemently denied the accusations, calling them ludicrous.
This dented but did not destroy her political career. She remains popular with those who feel the ANC has not done enough for the poor.
This has brought her into conflict with President Thabo Mbeki. At the 25th anniversary of the Soweto riots, in June 2001 she clashed publicly with the president.
Her conviction for fraud and theft is the latest mark on her increasingly stained reputation.