was a very educated woman, who married an anti-apartheid political figure –
Nelson Mandela. During their early years of marriage, Winnie realized that it
was very lonely as her husband was always busy in meetings and legal matters.
When she took part in the ANC Women’s League March and spent a few weeks in
prison, she realized the harsh conditions that South Africans were facing, and
her fight towards the struggle intensified.
a few people in her life, who she considered to be an inspiration to her, as
well as people she could confide in. However, as time and the struggle
progressed, these people turned against her and ended up being spies.
went to prison for his 27-year detention, Winnie was banned from many social
activities and was restricted from any political meetings. During this time,
many house raids was conducted in her home, as well as harassment and
intimidation from police. She faced many interrogations and torture from the
government and police to get her to tell them information about the ANC and her
husband – she eventually broke and told them everything they wanted to know
when they started torturing other prisoners in front of her.
After years of
being harassed, mentally and emotionally scarred, physically beaten as well as
intimidated, imprisoned and banned multiple times, Winnie had become hostile.
She became violent and erratic, and her methods of liberation became
militarized and dangerous.
Mandela was imprisoned, Winnie thought that the leadership role of the ANC was
immediately hers. She took on more power and even built a palace for herself in
Winnie’s club (Mandela
United Football Club) (MUFC) that was created so that children could socialize
and have fun, turned into a brutality place filled with torture and murder. James “Stompie” Seipei was a 14-year-old boy that was kidnapped
and brutally murdered by the club, and directly involved Winnie.
In 1997, Winnie Mandela and the
MUFC was asked to appear before the TRC due to the allegations she faced about
the murder of Stompei, charges of kidnapping of four boys, one of which include
Stompei and being an accessory to assault and murder. As well as killing a
doctor from Soweto for not agreeing to cover up the murder of the 14-year-old
boy. Winnie was a powerful leader. She did go to trial before, in 1991 for the
murder of Stompei, but walked away freely even though she faced serious charges
of murder and kidnapping. However, six years later, new evidence and
Winnie also ordered her body guard,
Jerry Richardson, who was also her really close confidant as well as a police informer,
to carry out majority of the murders, torturing and beatings that she was on
trial for – for example, James “Stompie” Seipei.
When one applied for amnesty, the
committee looked at different aspects of the situation. They looked at the
motive of the perpetrator, the legal parts that have to do with the offense
(for example – which laws were being broken and to what extent it was broken
too, as well as what extent human rights were violated.) and whether the perpetrator
carried out the harsh acts to benefit themselves. For example, if a person
committed a crime because they were ordered too in order to receive money. As well
as whether the act was committed in spite or directly aimed to target or hurt a
person intentionally – and the incident had to have occurred during the
apartheid time period. Once a person had been considered for amnesty, they
would first have a private hearing in court and if thereafter, acts of gross
human right violations had been found, a public hearing would be held where the
perpetrator, victim and any other person of interest would be notified and
asked to be present. And amnesty would have been granted if the committee was
happy with the applicant and if they met the requirements for amnesty. If amnesty
was denied, the applicant would be notified – along with the victim with
reasons about why they were refused.
After Winnie’s trial in 1997, more
accusations were being made, and she was also seen as the “Angel of Death” by
the parents of missing children in the townships.
The MUFC hearings had accusers,
members of the MUFC and witnesses who testified. Many people who testified in
the first trial came forward and admitted to lying in the first trial and
thereafter spoke the truth – this brought new light upon the case and proved to
have completely new evidence and information compared to the trial in 1991.
Winnie had faced many criminal
accusations, but in the end, she still chose to deny everything.
Whilst Winnie denied all
accusations, many people at that point in time felt as if, if she had admitted
to her wrong doings, and apologized for it then it would be possible for a lot
of people to begin their roads to recovery and receive closure for the loved
ones of the deceased.
Thereafter, according to some
sources, Winnie eventually apologized for the way she had handled situations.
In 1997, whilst on trial with the
TRC, Winnie said, “I am saying it is true, things went horribly wrong. I fully
agree with that. And for that part of those painful years, when things went
horribly wrong, and we were aware of the factors that led to that, for that, I
am deeply sorry.”
The TRC that even though amnesty was not requested,
prosecution should have been considered with cases like, Ms. Mandela’s that
involved such horrific violence and presented evidence of gross human
After her trials, Winnie was disowned by the African
National Congress (ANC) for a while. But thereafter remained a ruling figure in
the ANC and is still a high authority and powerful figure as the leader of the
ANC Women’s League.
Winnie played a
very influential role during the liberation struggle during apartheid and was
viewed highly by many, but once she became involved with the murders and
tortures of others, presented by the football club, her self-view by others was
tarnished and damaged her reputation.
extremely harsh and terrible for many, especially to those of colour. Many people
suffered and lost their loved ones. It was a very disengaging time for the
people of South Africa as the country was filled with hatred and anger. When
apartheid had ended, it was the end of a torturous era, but just the beginning
of a long road to recovery for South Africa as a whole. I believe that the TRC was necessary in order
for us to grow as a country and unite as one. Although it was flawed and did
have many issues concerning communication amongst the committees,
reconciliation forgiveness and healing were accepted by some who were affected
during the apartheid era. It taught people to look past the pain in order to
see a brighter future.
However, it was
successful to an extent. People like Winnie Mandela were not prosecuted even
though she had committed such atrocious crimes. Even though that according to
some sources, she did apologize to certain families for her crimes, no proper
punishment was given. This meant that a lot of people were not compensated for
their sufferings. The reasons I believe that it was only successful to an
extent, is because people who were regarded as high authority figures, or had companions
in the government, were not prosecuted to the extent that they should have been
based on their offenses.
was also good for South Africa as a whole because it made us unite and lead to
democracy. There are still people that are angry with what happened during
apartheid, and the anger and opinions of the older generations could be passed
down onto the younger generations, which inevitably is a bad thing because the younger
generations are the future. And if the younger generations think of the
generalized older generation, it would not allow South Africa to continue to
grow and move forward.
I believe that
reconciliation was received throughout South Africa. Even though we aren’t entirely
bonded, we have grown from the apartheid era. There are still aspects that aren’t
resolved, but we have moved forward from where we were 50 years ago, and we
will continue to grow and learn from the mistakes made from the past. South
Africa has progressed and this is partially because of the TRC which allowed
people to be compensated, and then be rehabilitated towards a better future.