Condemning Winnie: Remembering Stompie


On the 29th of December 1988, four youths were abducted from the Methodist manse of Reverend Paul Verryn in Soweto by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s bodyguards, known as the Mandela United Football Club (MUFC), and taken to the Mandela home in Diepkloof. Their names were Pelo Mekgwe, Thabiso Mono, Kenneth Kgase, and Moeketsie Stompie Seipei. They were beaten by Madikizela-Mandela’s bodyguards in order to force them to admit to have been sexually abused by Rev Verryn. Madikizela-Mandela allegedly initiated the beatings with a sjambok.

Stompie was a boy who was known amongst his peers for his toughness. Stompie refused to give in to the demands of Madikizela-Mandela and her cohorts and was subsequently beaten to a bloody pulp by her bodyguards. He was also accused of being a police informant. Dr Abubaker Asvat was summoned to examine the beaten Stompie, and concluded that he would not survive. Dr Asvat was later shot to death to allegedly keep him from talking about what he saw at Madikizela-Mandela’s house. In early January of 1989, Stompie’s decomposing corpse was found on the outskirts of Soweto with three knife wounds to his neck.

In 1991, Judge Michael Stegmann sentenced Madikizela-Mandela to six years in prison for her part in the kidnapping of the youths and for assault. Her sentence was reduced on appeal to a fine and a two-year suspended sentence. The Rand Supreme Court eventually sentenced Jerry Richardson, who claimed he killed Stompie on Madikizela-Mandela’s orders, to death for the murder of Stompie. He is, however, currently serving life in prison as the death sentence was deemed unconstitutional in S v Makwanyane and subsequently struck down. Madikizela-Mandela apologised to Stompie’s mother for the loss of her son, but always maintained her innocence and accused Richardson of lying about killing Stompie on her orders.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) heard various versions of how Stompie was killed. Jerry Richardson claimed he killed him on Madikizela-Mandela’s instructions. Katiza Cebekhulu claimed he witnessed Madikizela-Mandela stabbing Stompie herself. This version was supported by John Morgan, who testified that he was instructed to dump Stompie’s body. Themba Mabotha stated in an unsigned and typed section 29 detention statement that he was present when Richardson informed Madikizela-Mandela that he had killed Stompie. Former Security Branch policeman Paul Erasmus suggested that Richardson killed Stompie because he (Stompie) had found out that Richardson was an informer for the police himself. All the versions except Erasmus’ implicated Madikizela-Mandela in Stompie’s brutal kidnapping and death. The TRC concluded that Madikizela-Mandela was complicit in Stompie’s death, although only in so far as she did not take responsibility to arrange medical treatment for him after he was assaulted at her home. The TRC did, however, conclude that Madikizela-Mandela was responsible for the kidnapping of the youths.

Today, on the second day of April 2018, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela took her last breath. There are those who mourn her death and view her as an unsung hero of South Africa. Pieter Howes once tweeted that “she’s often overlooked as a national hero”.

Then there are those of us, the sane and the rational, who saw Winnie for what she was: a freedom fighter turned psychopath. Stompie was but one of Winnie’s victims. Today, I urge each and every person so ignorant of her crimes, to stop commemorating her as a hero. Winnie was no hero. She stooped to the levels of moral depravity of the old Apartheid leaders. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela endorsed and (allegedly) ordered the murder of innocent black individuals with the same lack of conscience that the National Party did.

“Together, hand in hand, with our matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country” – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The last time I checked, liberating black people from the shackles of white supremacy did not include burning those alive that you deemed sell-outs to the cause, never mind beating innocent children and (allegedly) sentencing one to his brutal death.

For more information on the other crimes of Winnie and the MUFC, read chapter six of the second volume of the TRC’s report here:

(Featured image source: Peter Magubane | SAHistory)

Edit 1: The author would like to correct the following error: instead of “known as the Mandela United Football Club” , it should read “part of the Mandela United Football Club”

Edit 2: Winnie was found guilty of accessory to assault and not of assault itself. In addition, it is not certain that she was present at the time, but the TRC reports that she was.

Read More in the follow up article.


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