Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

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(Redirected from Winnie Mandela)

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (born September 26, 1934 or 1936), born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela, is the ex-wife of former South African president (May 1994-June 1999) and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela.

She was born in the village of Bizana, in the Pondoland region of what is now the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. She held a number of jobs in various parts of what was then the Bantustan of Transkei, including with the Transkei government, living at various times in Bizana, Shawbury, and Johannesburg. Despite restrictions on education of blacks during apartheid, her wealthy background allowed her to escape many of the hardships of the period; she earned a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg, and several years later earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand, also in Johannesburg, one of South Africa's top universities.

She emerged as a leading opponent of the white minority government during the latter years of her husband's long imprisonment (August 1962-February 1990). For many of those years she was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area except for the times she was allowed to visit her husband at the prison on Robben Island. She was dubbed "the Mother of the Nation."

Her reputation was damaged by what many considered her sometimes bloodthirsty rhetoric. The most noteworthy example of this being a speech she gave in Munsieville on April 13, 1985, where she endorsed the practice of necklacing in the struggle to end apartheid. She said, "with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country".

Further tarnishing her reputation were accusations of responsibility for the January 1989 abduction and killing by her bodyguards of 14-year-old ANC activist Stompie Seipei Moketsi.

In 1991 she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault in connection with the death of Moketski. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.

During the transition from Apartheid she appeared to adopt a less conciliatory attitude than her husband toward the previously dominant white community. The Mandelas' 38-year marriage ended in separation (April 1992) and divorce (March 1996). She then adopted the surname Madikizela-Mandela. Appointed deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology in the first post-Apartheid government (May 1994), she was dismissed eleven months later following allegations of corruption.

She remained popular, however, among many ANC radicals, and in December 1993 and April 1997 she was elected president of the ANC Women's League, though she withdrew her candidacy for ANC deputy president at the movement's December 1997 Mafikeng conference after further damaging revelations about the Seipei incident during the sittings of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

On April 24, 2003 she was found guilty on 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft, and her broker, Addy Moolman, was convicted on 58 counts of fraud and 25 of theft. They had each pleaded not guilty. The theft charges stem from a scheme in which they set up a phony funeral insurance service and then pilfered money from participants' accounts. Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was sentenced to four years in prison.

It remains unclear how this conviction will affect her parliamentary seat, her leadership position in the Women's League or her populist Madikizela-Mandela nl:Winnie Mandela fi:Winnie Mandela


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