I met Winnie Madikizela-Mandela briefly, at the inauguration of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. My father had been invited. He took me along. It was a beautiful affair; the choir and choral music sublime. Mrs. Mandela was a beautiful woman in her youth. It was easy to see why Nelson Mandela had fallen for her.
As a young bride whose husband had been imprisoned for life, Winnie suffered bitterly, especially during her exile to “Brandfort in the Free State, where she was unceremoniously dumped at house 802 with her youngest daughter, Zinzi. There was no running water or electricity and the house had no floors or ceilings. The people spoke mainly Sotho, Tswana or Afrikaans and hardly any Xhosa, which was Winnie’s home language.”
With the years, however, Mrs. Mandela only grew angrier and more bitter, even when the good times rolled around.
She soon attained international ill repute for being embroiled in the practice of “necklacing” of so-called suspected police informers. “Necklacing,” for those who don’t know, is the more contemporary African custom of placing a diesel-doused tire around a putative offender’s neck and igniting it. Truth be told, her victims were regular black folks who weren’t loyalists of the African National Congress.
Little Stompie Moeketsi was “a teenage United Democratic Front (UDF) activist.” Winnie and her football team, aka posse (don’s ask me to explain), stood in the dock for these acts of barbarism against him and others:
Moeketsi, together with Kenny Kgase, Pelo Mekgwe and Thabiso Mono, were kidnapped on December 29, 1988 from the Methodist manse in Orlando, Soweto. Moeketsi was accused of being a police informer. Screams were heard as Stompie Moeketsi was murdered, at the age of 14, by Jerry Richardson, member of Winnie Mandela’s “Football Club”. His body was recovered on waste ground near Winnie Mandela’s house on January 6, 1989. His throat had been cut. Jerry Richardson, one of Winnie Mandela’s bodyguards, was convicted of the murder. He stated that she had ordered him, with others, to abduct the four youths from Soweto, of whom Moeketsi was the youngest. The four were severely beaten.
Involvement of Winnie Mandela In 1991, Winnie Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault.
According to a 1997 statement by the South African Press Association, the first-ever necklacing was of a girl named Maki Skosana, who in July 1985 was necklaced after being accused baselessly of involvement in the killing of several youths.
“With our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country,” proclaimed Mandela’s increasingly deranged wife Winnie to The New York Times on February 20, 1989.