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But there was one particularly savage killing, just after Christmas 1988, for which she couldn’t dodge responsibility. It was so pitiless that, for once, witnesses were prepared to talk to the authorities.

Two years later, she was arraigned for kidnap and assault. On February 4, 1991 — a year after her husband’s release — she was brought to trial.

I watched that morning as an exuberant and carefully-choreographed cavalcade swept through downtown Johannesburg with Nelson Mandela at its head. A phalanx of township “lions” danced behind him, with their familiar bent-arm, clenched-fist salutes and defiant roar of “Amandla Awethu” (Power to the People). Ululating women, resplendent in ethnic robes of black, green and gold, chanted “Viva ANC” and “Viva Winnie”. Many had brought their children, who waved and cheered wildly on the sidelines. Soweto had come to the city.

Around Mr Mandela were gathered some of the heroes of the struggle; Joe Slovo, Alfred Nzo, the doomed Chris Hani. At his side, holding his hand, was Winnie, by this time an international celebrity in her own right. Despite having made an infamous speech supporting the “necklacing” of political opponents (placing petrol-filled tyres around their necks and burning them alive), she was venerated in the West as “the Mother of the Nation”.

The police were out in numbers but did little to interrupt the proceedings. The apartheid state was in its death rattle and they were hardly about to set their dogs on the man most likely to be their next president.

The destination of the excitable throng was the Rand Supreme Court, where Winnie was due to stand trial for kidnapping and assaulting four boys, one of whom, 14-year-old James “Stompie” Moeketsi Seipei, had been horribly murdered and his body casually dumped on waste ground.

As the Mandelas entered, Winnie’s ebullient lawyer George Bizos denounced the charges against her as a pack of lies. It was nothing more than a tawdry show trial, he said, intended to smear the Mandela name. But over the next few hours a truly chilling story unfolded — a story of torture and brutality, orchestrated by Mrs Mandela at her Soweto home.

The post mortem on Stompie’s broken body revealed a hideous catalogue of injuries. Just 4ft 6ins tall and of slight build, he had been beaten so badly that there was severe bruising over his face, back, buttocks, legs and torso. He had a cracked rib, haemorrhaging to the brain and collapsed lungs.

These injuries alone would have been enough to kill him but in a final coup de grace he had been stabbed in the throat with a pair of shears. The blades had sliced so deeply that they penetrated the chest cavity leading to blood flowing directly into his stomach. The only shred of consolation in this horror story was that at least the boy was probably unconscious as he bled to death, discarded and alone.

The last time Stompie had been seen alive was during a violent interrogation at Winnie’s Soweto house. He and the three other boys were accused of having homosexual relations with a local white priest and “touting” information to the police. In 1980s Soweto, these were capital crimes.
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June 8th, 2018
7:06 PM
They are becoming worse. Mandela's thirst is rising again among the ANC and SA is becoming a hell hole. Any white that voluntarily remains is insane.

April 29th, 2018
9:04 AM
It would be good if the eyes of those journalists, currently providing apologist and largely positive obituaries, for Winnie Mandela were to be opened.

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