Winnie 'linked to five murders': South African MP talks to witnesses who could provide new and damning evidence

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The Independent Online
A SOUTH African MP used parliamentary privilege yesterday to resurrect some of Winnie Mandela's old ghosts, claiming he knew of a witness who could provide evidence possibly linking her to five murders.

Lester Fuchs of the liberal Democratic Party raised the name in parliament of Katiza Cebekhulu, someone Nelson Mandela's estranged wife would undoubtedly rather forget after South Africa's appeal court last week reduced her six-year prison sentence for kidnapping and assault to a fine.

Mr Cebekhulu was supposed to have been a co-defendant of Mrs Mandela when her case came to trial in February 1991. Instead, ANC officials, aware that he planned to testify against Mrs Mandela, spirited him out of the country to Zambia, where - despite representations on his behalf - he still languishes in prison, supposedly detained as an illegal immigrant. 'Katiza Cebekhulu would not only have been able to give evidence on the murder of Stompie Seipei and Mrs Mandela's alleged involvement in the assault on Stompie, he would also be able to shed light on various other crimes,' Mr Fuchs said.

Stompie was one of four young men kidnapped in December 1988 on the instructions of Mrs Mandela and assaulted by members of her so-called football club. Three survived, but Stompie, 14, was subsequently murdered by the football club 'coach', Mrs Mandela's chief bodyguard, Jerry Richardson. Stompie's body, the throat slit, was found in a Soweto field in January 1989.

Mr Fuchs said that not only would Mr Cebekhulu have been able to challenge the court's more favourable findings on Mrs Mandela, he could have evidence linking her to five other killings, including the murder of a Soweto doctor who allegedly visited Stompie as he lay dying.

Mr Fuchs said he met another witness at the weekend who could incriminate Mrs Mandela: her co-accused, Xoliswa Falati, who began a two-year jail sentence a week ago in connection with the attacks on Stompie and the others. Mr Fuchs said Mrs Falati told him she had lied in court to protect Mrs Mandela's alibi and 'because I was scared of her'.

The judge's acceptance of Mrs Mandela's alibi in the original trial was what let her off. She claimed she had not been at home when the boys were assaulted, that she had been 250 miles away in Brandfort. Mrs Falati corroborated the alibi in court as did Thabo Motau, who said he had driven Mrs Mandela to Brandfort. Mr Fuchs said yesterday that Mrs Falati had told him Mr Motau had received 2,000 rand ( pounds 400) from Mrs Mandela to lie to the court.

The Democratic Party MP criticised the police for their failure to press charges against Mrs Mandela, who was appointed to a senior position in a Johannesburg civic association last week following her appeal verdict.

Curiously, the government is not known to have tried to extradite Mr Cebekhulu, even though he is wanted here on the very charges that cost Mrs Falati a jail sentence and Mrs Mandela a conviction and a fine.