Spies reveal Pretoria's dirty war on Winnie

Winnie Mandela was portrayed as the victim of a dirty propaganda war at yesterday's Truth and Reconciliation hearing. Mary Braid in Johannesburg says others accused her of being a police informer

Two former spies told the commission that British and American agents secretly helped the apartheid regime to spread rumours that Mrs Mandela was a child-killer, an alcoholic and a drug-user.

South African agents, it was claimed, placed this disinformation about Mrs Mandela in British newspapers.

Paul Erasmus, one of the South African agents, said members of the British Conservative Party's Monday Club were "principal agents" involved in spreading propaganda. His fellow operative, John Louis McPherson, claimed he had been given a list of friendly journalists.

But Azhar Cachalia, the chief ANC appointee in the Department for Safety and Security, said that during the late 1980s - when the murders and violent attacks Mrs Mandela is implicated in, including the killing of Stompie Seipei Moeketsi, 14, took place - many suspected she was a police spy.

"Just about everyone seemed to be aware that there were guerrillas and arms in the Mandela home," said Mr Cachalia, who was part of the leadership of the United Democratic Front, which publicly distanced itself from Mrs Mandela in 1989. He said it was difficult to understand why the police did not raid her home at the height of the state of emergency. "Did they want to use what was happening around her home to discredit our president [Nelson Mandela] when he was released," he mused, shrugging his shoulders. "There were a million agendas."

A murky picture was further confused by an admission from the Police Commissioner, George Fivaz, that Jerry Richardson, former coach of the "Mandela Football Club" and now serving life for Stompie's murder, was a police spy. He was on the police payroll only two years ago. Mr Fivaz claimed he had provided information about other cases.

Richardson attended this week's hearings wearing the colours of the team that rarely took to the pitch but terrorised Soweto. Mr Cachalia said he thought Mrs Mandela was involved in the murder of Dr Abu Baker Asvat a few weeks after Stompie's murder.

The doctor is believed to have seen Stompie after he was beaten for three days at Mrs Mandela's home. Mr Cachalia said that because Mrs Mandela and the doctor had been close friends he had been unable to contemplate the possibility of her ordering the murder.

Mr Cachalia launched an emotional appeal to Mrs Mandela after a commissioner asked if his testimony was shaped by a "political agenda". The commissioner suggested he might be part of an Indian cabal within the ANC, which is hostile to "Africanists`" such as Mrs Mandela. Mr Cachalia said: "Part of me wants to go up and hug you and say `Let us go away from all this' ... But another part of me says we cannot go forward unless there is accountability."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before