On this day 28 years ago, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was found guilty on four charges of kidnapping and four of being an accessory after the fact to assault.
Her co-accused, John Morgan, was found guilty of kidnapping, and Xoliswa Falati guilty of kidnapping and of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
On 29 December, 1988, Jerry Richardson, who was coach of the Mandela United Football Club, abducted 14-year-old James Seipei (also known as Stompie Sepei) and three others from the home of Rev. Paul Verryn. Richardson claimed that Winnie Mandela had the youths taken to her home because she suspected the pastor was abusing them. These accusations were never proven.
Negotiations by senior ANC members and community leaders to get the kidnapped boys released by Winnie Mandela failed. Before long, Seipei was accused of being an informer. The case arose from the fact that Stompie Sepei was been found dead from his injuries near the crime scene a few days later.
The sentencing was scheduled for 14 May, 1991.
Winnie was later acquitted of all but the kidnapping of Sepei. A key witness, Katiza Cebekhulu, who was going to testify that Madikizela-Mandela had killed Sepei, had been tortured and kidnapped to Zambia by her supporters, prior to the trial, to prevent him testifying against her. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.
In 1992, Winnie Mandela was further accused of ordering the murder of Dr. Abu Baker Asvat, a family friend, and prominent Soweto doctor, who had examined Seipei at Mandela's house after he had been abducted. Asvat's murderer testified that she paid the equivalent of $8,000 and supplied the firearm used in the killing, which took place on 27 January, 1989. The hearings were later adjourned due to claims that witnesses were being intimidated on Winnie Mandela's orders.
In 1997 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) reached a verdict that Madikizela-Mandela was guilty and had played a role in the killing of Stompie Sepei.
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