SA's 'first black voter' was a fraud

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AUCKLAND (AFP) - A woman claiming to be a niece of Nelson Mandela who attracted world-wide publicity by being the first black to vote in the South African elections was a fraud.

Television New Zealand described Nomaza Paintin as a 'complete sham' with a long history of fabrication. She claimed to have been a doctor, a diplomat and a World Health Organisation official but had been none of those, the 60 Minutes programme said.

Ms Paintin was the first to vote at a special polling booth in Wellington on 26 April, but she should not have voted as she was born in Zimbabwe and not Qunu in the Transkei as she claimed. She had never lived in South Africa, the programme said.

South African electoral authorities knew the truth, but on the intervention of New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, allowed her to vote because of the public relations benefit of the event. When Mr Mandela was sworn in, Mr Bolger presented him with a large photograph of his 'niece' voting in Wellington.

Ms Paintin claimed Mr Mandela was her uncle, but her mother in Zimbabwe told 60 Minutes this was not so. She had also claimed to be a relative of the murdered African National Congress leader Chris Hani. But her family denied this.

She claims to have qualified as a doctor in Britain but British medical authorities could find qualifications only as a nurse. After her claims were challenged, Ms Paintin walked out, saying she would produce her medical degrees and a letter from Mr Mandela. But she did neither.

Ms Paintin, wearing ANC colours, voted with Mr Bolger looking on. Because of time zones, the New Zealand polling booths were the first in the world to open in South Africa's first free election.

JOHANNESBURG In his last days in power, South Africa's former president Frederik de Klerk, granted amnesty to security force dirty tricks operators and commuted death sentences on right-wing killers, including Major-General Eddie Webb.

(Photograph omitted)