Winnie's daughter accused of torture

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The Independent Online
Members of Winnie Mandela's notorious football club yesterday claimed her daughter had taken a leading part in torturing those on her mother's hit list.

Mary Braid, in Johannesburg, says the testimony reinforces Mrs Mandela's image as a violent mafia leader.

Gift Ntombeni, a former member of the Mandela United Football Club, claimed Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's younger daughter, Zinzi, carved the initials ANC onto the back and chest of a man accused of being a police spy.

Mr Ntombeni, 25, said he saw Zinzi gouging out the letters with plastic utensils in the yard of Mrs Mandela's Soweto home in the late 1980s.

As Mr Ntombeni told his story, the permanent smile that has played on the lips of Zinzi, 37, throughout seven harrowing days of testimony during which her mother has been implicated in at least six murders and many assaults, disappeared. It was replaced by a broad grin, and an exaggerated roll of the eyes heavenward.

Mr Ntombeni told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings into the activities of the football club that Zinzi and her mother initiated and even took part in assaults. "I know this woman [Zinzi]," he said. "And I know what she is capable of ... Zinzi definitely takes after her mother. Both of them are capable of any deed whatsoever."

Mr Ntombeni's testimony reinforced a portrait of Mrs Mandela as violent mafia leader rather than the Mother of the Nation. The portrait embarrasses her political allies. Yesterday it was reported that the ANC's Women League was rethinking its nomination of Mrs Mandela for deputy leader of the party, against the leadership's wishes, later this month.

Mr Ntombeni, like other witness, portrayed the football club as gangsters. They would, he said, hunt down "informers" and bring them back to a shack nicknamed Lusaka - the headquarters of the ANC in exile - at the back of Mrs Mandela's home. "Then we would start assaulting them and disappearing them," he said. Torture methods included burning.

No sane person defied Winnie, he said. Anyone who did was labelled a police spy. Mr Ntombeni said he left the club in 1988, when he was 16, after a year's stay at Mrs Mandela's house. He claimed Zinzi denounced him as an informer and Mrs Mandela hired a hitman to kill him.

According to Mr Ntombeni, ANC officials helped him leave the country for Uganda in 1992 after he went to the party's Johannesburg headquarters and complained that Mrs Mandela had ordered his assassination. He returned home two years later.

On Monday, the TRC issued a strong warning to Mrs Mandela after witnesses accused her of intimidation. Mr Ntombeni said Mrs Mandela summoned him to her home just a week ago to speak about his testimony. Ishmail Semenya, Mrs Mandela's lawyer, who sought to prevent Mr Ntombeni giving evidence, did not contest his claim.

Allegations against Zinzi Mandela-Hlongwane were also made yesterday by another former club member, Leratodi Ikaneng. He claimed she instigated and participated in the torture of youths accused of raping a schoolgirl.

Mr Ikaneng revealed a large scar across his neck. He said he had been left for dead in a field in 1989 after Mrs Mandela found out he had given the police a statement about a murder committed by Siswe Sithole, the father of one of Zinzi's four children.

Mr Ikaneng said Gerry Richardson, the former "coach" of the football club, had cut his throat with garden sheers. Mr Richardson is serving life for the murder of Stompie Seipei Moeketsi, 14, in 1989. Mrs Mandela was convicted of kidnapping the boy. Richardson is expected to testify today that Mrs Mandela ordered him to kill Stompie.

Mrs Mandela is expected to testify tomorrow. A taste of what might be in store was offered yesterday after ANC activist Evodia Nkandimeng, 33, claimed that Mrs Mandela had an affair with a police spy.

With no hard evidence to offer, Mr Semenya accused Ms Nkandimeng of being a police spy. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, TRC chairman, admonished the lawyer.

Yesterday, Alex Boraine, TRC deputy chairman, expressed the Commission's general dissatisfaction with the level of honesty among witnesses that have so far appeared - whether ANC big wigs or prisoners serving life.