|Name:||Winnie Madikizela Mandela|
|Birth Day:||September 26, 1936|
|Death Date:||Apr 2, 2018 (age 81)|
While married to Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela Mandela served as First Lady of South Africa. Also a politician and political activist, Winnie Madikizela Mandela served as head of the African National Congress' Women's League and National Executive Committee.
As per our current Database, Winnie Madikizela Mandela died on Apr 2, 2018 (age 81).
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Winnie Madikizela Mandela earned a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg and a degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand. Winnie Madikizela Mandela's education was highly unusual in light of apartheid restrictions.
Upon leaving school, she went to Johannesburg to study social work at the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work. She earned a degree in social work in 1956, and several years later earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of the Witwatersrand. She held a number of jobs in various parts of what was then the Bantustan of Transkei; including with the Transkei government, living at various points of time at Bizana, Shawbury and Johannesburg. Her first job was as a social worker at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.
She met the lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957, when he was still married to Evelyn Mase.
She was 22 years old and standing at a bus stop in Soweto when Mandela first saw her and charmed her, securing a lunch date the following week. The couple married in 1958 and had two daughters, Zenani (born 1958) and Zindziwa (born 1960). Mandela was arrested and jailed in 1963, and was not released until 1990.
Her longest jailing was for 491 days (as noted in her account 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69), beginning on 12 May 1969, at Pretoria Central Prison, where she spent months in solitary confinement, and was tortured and beaten. By her own account, Winnie Mandela's experience in prison "hardened" her.
From 1977 to 1985, she was banished to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area,. It was at this time that Winnie Mandela became well known in the Western world. She organised a creche with an NGO, Operation Hunger and a clinic in Brandfort with Dr Abu Baker Asvat, her personal physician, campaigned actively for equal rights and was promoted by the ANC as a symbol of their struggle against apartheid. While in exile in Brandfort, she, and those who attempted to assist her, were harassed by the apartheid police.
Winnie Mandela returned to Soweto from Brandfort in late 1985, in defiance of a banning order. During her banishment, the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) had formed a mass-movement against apartheid. The new organisations relied more heavily on collective decision-making structures, rather than on individual charisma. She took a more militaristic approach, eschewing the approach of the newer bodies, and began dressing in military garb, and surrounding herself with bodyguards: the Mandela United Football Club (MUFC). Living in Winnie Mandela's home, the putative "soccer team" began hearing family disputes; delivering "judgments" and "sentences" and eventually became associated with kidnapping, torture and murder. She was implicated in at least 15 deaths during this time period.
In 1985, Mandela won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award along with fellow activists Allan Boesak and Beyers Naudé for their human rights work in South Africa. She received a Candace Award for Distinguished Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1988.
During a speech in Munsieville on 13 April 1986, Winnie Mandela endorsed the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using tyres and petrol) by saying: "With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country." Further tarnishing her reputation were accusations by her bodyguard, Jerry Musivuzi Richardson, and others, at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that she had ordered kidnapping and murder during the second half of the 1980s.
Mandela was portrayed by Alfre Woodard in the 1987 HBO TV movie, Mandela. Woodard earned both a CableACE Award and an NAACP Image Award for her performance, as did costar Danny Glover, who portrayed Nelson Mandela.
In 1988, Winnie Mandela's home was burned by high school students in Soweto, in retaliation for the actions of the Mandela United Football Club. By 1989, after appeals from local residents, and after the Seipei kidnapping, the UDF (in the guise of the Mass Democratic Movement, or MDM), "disowned" her for "violating human rights ... in the name of the struggle against apartheid". The ANC in exile issued a statement criticising her judgment, after she refused to heed instructions, issued from prison by Nelson Mandela, to dissociate herself from the Football Club, and after attempts at mediation by an ANC crisis committee failed.
In November 1988, 21-year-old Lolo Sono, and his 19-year-old friend Siboniso Shabalala, disappeared in Soweto. Sono's father said he saw his son in a kombi with Winnie Mandela, and that his son had been badly beaten. Sono’s mother claimed that Winnie Mandela had labelled her son a spy, and had said she was "taking him away". At the subsequent Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, Sono's stepmother said, "I am pleading with Mrs Mandela today, in front of the whole world, that please, Mrs Mandela, give us our son back. Even if he is dead, let Mrs Mandela give us the remains of our son, so that we must bury him decently." Sono and Shabalala's bodies were exhumed from pauper's graves in Soweto's Avalon Cemetery in 2013, by the National Prosecuting Authority's Missing People's Task Team, having been stabbed soon after their abductions.
On 29 December 1988, Jerry Richardson, who was coach of the Mandela United Football Club, abducted 14-year-old James Seipei (also known as Stompie Sepei) and three other youths from the home of Methodist minister Paul Verryn, with Richardson claiming that Winnie Mandela had the youths taken to her home because she suspected the minister was sexually abusing them (allegations that were baseless). The four were beaten to get them to admit to having had sex with the minister. Negotiations that lasted 10 days, by senior ANC and community leaders to get the kidnapped boys released by Winnie Mandela failed. Seipei was accused of being an informer, and his body later found in a field with stab wounds to the throat on 6 January 1989.
During South Africa's transition to multi-racial democracy, she adopted a far less conciliatory attitude than her husband did towards white South Africans. She was seen on her husband's arm when he was released in February 1990, the first time the couple had been seen in public for nearly 30 years.
In 1991, Mrs Mandela was acquitted of all but the kidnapping of Sepei. A key witness, Katiza Cebekhulu, who was going to testify that Madikizela-Mandela had killed Sepei, had been tortured and kidnapped to Zambia by her supporters, prior to the trial, to prevent him testifying against her. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.
The couple separated in 1992. They finalised their divorce in March 1996 with an unspecified out-of-court settlement. During the divorce hearing, Nelson Mandela rejected Madikizela-Mandela's assertion that arbitration could salvage the marriage, and cited her infidelity as a cause of the divorce, saying "... I am determined to get rid of the marriage". Her attempt to obtain a settlement up to US$5million (R70 million) – half of what she claimed her ex-husband was worth – was dismissed when she failed to appear in court for a settlement hearing.
In 1992, she was accused of ordering the murder of Abu Baker Asvat, a family friend, and prominent Soweto doctor, who had examined Seipei at Mandela's house, after Seipei had been abducted, but before he had been killed. Mandela's role in the Asvat killing was later probed as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, in 1997. Asvat's murderer testified that she paid the equivalent of $8,000 and supplied the firearm used in the killing, which took place on 27 January 1989. The hearings were later adjourned amid claims that witnesses were being intimidated on Winnie Mandela's orders.
However, their 38-year marriage ended in April 1992 after rumours of unfaithfulness. Their divorce was finalised in March 1996. She then adopted the surname "Madikizela-Mandela". Also in 1992, she lost her position as the head of the ANC social welfare department, amid allegations of corruption.
She remained extremely popular amongst many ANC supporters. In December 1993 and April 1997, she was elected president of the ANC Women's League, although she withdrew her candidacy for ANC Deputy President at the movement's Mafikeng conference in December 1997. Earlier in 1997, she appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Archbishop Desmond Tutu as chairman of the commission recognised her importance in the anti-apartheid struggle, but exhorted her to apologise and to admit her mistakes. In a guarded response, she admitted "things went horribly wrong".
When asked in a 1994 interview about the possibility of reconciliation, she said: "I am not fighting to be the country's First Lady. In fact, I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone."
Madikizela-Mandela actively campaigned for the ANC in South Africa's first non-racial elections. Appointed Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in May 1994, she was dismissed 11 months later following allegations of corruption.
In 1995, multiple prominent members of the ANC Women's League, including Adelaide Tambo resigned from the National Executive Committee of that body because of disagreement with Madikizela-Mandela's leadership of the body, and amid a controversy about a large donation from Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto that was not handed over to the League by Madikizela-Mandela.
Madikizela-Mandela was involved in a lawsuit at the time of her death, claiming that she was entitled to Mandela's homestead in Qunu, through customary law, despite her divorce from Nelson Mandela in 1996. Her case was dismissed by the Mthatha High Court in 2016, and she was reportedly preparing to appeal to the Constitutional Court at the time of her death, after failing at the Supreme Court of Appeal in January 2018.
Tina Lifford played her in the 1997 TV film Mandela and de Klerk. Sophie Okonedo portrayed her in the BBC drama Mrs Mandela, first broadcast on BBC Four on 25 January 2010.
The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission (TRC), issued in 1998, found "Ms Winnie Madikizela Mandela politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights committed by the Mandela United Football Club" and that she "was responsible, by omission, for the commission of gross violations of human rights." The TRC report also stated that Sepei trial witness Katiza Cebekhulu's abduction to Zambia, where he was detained without trial for almost 3 years by the Kenneth Kaunda government, before moving to the UK was done by the ANC, and in the "interests" of Madikizela-Mandela. The TRC found allegations against Methodist minister Paul Verryn to be "unfounded and without any merit" and that "Madikizela-Mandela deliberately and maliciously slandered Verryn...in an attempt to divert attention away from herself and [her] associates...". The TRC also found that she was responsible for the abduction of, and assaults on, Stompie Sepei, and that she had attempted to cover up his death by claiming he had fled to Botswana. She was found by the TRC to be responsible for the 1988 disappearance of Lolo Sono and Siboniso Shabalala.
In 2002, Madikizela-Mandela was found guilty by a Parliamentary ethics committee of failing to disclose donations and financial interests. Madikizela Mandela was often absent from Parliament, sometimes for months at a time, and was ordered by Parliament to account for her absences in 2003.
In 2003, Madikizela-Mandela offered to act as a human shield prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Also in 2003, she helped defuse a hostage situation at Wits University, where a student who was in arrears with fees took a staff member hostage at knifepoint.
On 24 April 2003, Winnie Mandela was convicted on 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft, and her broker, Addy Moolman, was convicted on 58 counts of fraud and 25 of theft. Both had pleaded not guilty. The charges related to money taken from loan applicants' accounts for a funeral fund, but from which the applicants did not benefit. Madikizela-Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison. Shortly after the conviction, she resigned from all leadership positions in the ANC, including her parliamentary seat and the presidency of the ANC Women's League.
In July 2004, an appeal judge of the Pretoria High Court ruled that "the crimes were not committed for personal gain". The judge overturned the conviction for theft, but upheld the one for fraud, handing her a three years and six months suspended sentence.
When the ANC announced the election of its National Executive Committee on 21 December 2007, Madikizela-Mandela placed first with 2,845 votes.
In 2007, an opera based on her life called The Passion of Winnie was produced in Canada, however, she was declined a visa to attend its world premiere and associated gala fundraising concert.
In a leaked letter to Jacob Zuma in October 2008, outgoing President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki alluded to the role the ANC had created for Nelson and Winnie Mandela, as representative symbols of the brutality of apartheid:
Madikizela-Mandela criticised the anti-immigrant violence in May–June 2008 that began in Johannesburg and spread throughout the country, and blamed the government's lack of suitable housing provisions for the sentiments behind the riots. She apologised to the victims of the riots and visited the Alexandra township. She offered her home as shelter for an immigrant family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She warned that the perpetrators of the violence could strike at the Gauteng train system.
In 2010, Madikizela-Mandela was interviewed by Nadira Naipaul. In the interview, she attacked her ex-husband, claiming that he had "let blacks down", that he was only "wheeled out to collect money", and that he is "nothing more than a foundation". She further attacked his decision to accept the Nobel Peace Prize with F. W. de Klerk. Among other things, she reportedly claimed Mandela was no longer "accessible" to her daughters. She referred to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his capacity as the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as a "cretin".
The interview attracted media attention, and the ANC announced that it would ask her to explain her comments regarding Nelson Mandela. On 14 March 2010, a statement was issued on behalf of Winnie Mandela claiming that the interview was a fabrication.
Jennifer Hudson played her in Winnie Mandela, directed by Darrell Roodt, released in Canada by D Films on 16 September 2011. Roodt, Andre Pieterse, and Paul L. Johnson based the film's script on Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob's biography, Winnie Mandela: A Life. The Creative Workers Union of South Africa opposed the choice of Hudson in the title role, saying the use of foreign actors to tell the country's stories undermined efforts to develop the national film industry.
Mandela was again portrayed in the 2013 film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom by actress Naomie Harris (British actor Idris Elba played Nelson Mandela). On viewing the film, Madikizela-Mandela told Harris it was "the first time she felt her story had been captured on film". Gugulethu okaMseleku, writing in The Guardian, stated that the film had returned Winnie Mandela to her rightful place, recognising her role in "the struggle" that, "for South African women ... was more fundamental than her husband's."
In a 2017 documentary about the life and activism of Winnie Mandela, former Soweto police officer Henk Heslinga alleged that former safety minister Sydney Mufamadi had instructed him to re-open the investigation into the death of Moeketsi, as well as all other cases made against Winnie Mandela, for the purpose of charging Winnie with murder. According to Heslinga, Richardson admitted during an interview that Moeketsi discovered he was an informant, and that he killed the child to cover his tracks. However, at a press conference a few days after Madikizela-Mandela's funeral, Mufamadi denied the allegations in the documentary, stating that Helsinga's statements were false. The documentary had previously been described by in a review by Vanity Fair as "unabashedly one-sided" and "overwhelmingly defensive". Commentator Max du Preez, called the decision by television station eNCA to broadcast the documentary in the week prior to Madikizela-Mandela's funeral without context a "serious mistake", and he described it as making "outrageous claims", while former TRC commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza questioned the motives of the documentary maker.
In January 2018, ANC MP Mandla Mandela, Nelson Mandela's grandson by his first wife, Evelyn Mase, called for Winnie Mandela's role in the Asvat and Sepei murders to be probed. In October 2018 a new biography of Madikizela-Mandela concluded that she had been responsible for the murder of Asvat.
In April 2018, Joyce Seipei, the mother of Stompie Seipei, told media that she did not believe that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was involved in her son’s murder. In a subsequent interview with the UK Independent, Joyce Seipei said that she had forgiven Madikizela-Mandela, and that during the TRC hearings, Madikizela-Mandela had told her, in the context of her son Stompie's murder: "...may God forgive me". After the TRC hearings, Madikizela-Mandela had provided financial support to Joyce Sepei's family, and Seipei's home was furnished by the ANC.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on 2 April 2018 at the age of 81. She suffered from diabetes and had recently undergone several major surgeries. She "had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year".
Madikizela-Mandela was granted a "Special Official Funeral" by the South African government. Her public funeral service was held at Orlando Stadium on 14 April 2018. Planning for Madikizela Mandela's funeral was largely handled by her daughters and Julius Malema, and the ANC reportedly had to "fight for space" on the programme. At the public service, ANC and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa "acknowledged" that the ANC failed to stand by Madikizela-Mandela's side during her legal troubles. Julius Malema, delivered an impassioned speech in which he criticised the United Democratic Front for distancing themselves from Madikizela-Mandela in the 1980s. Malema also criticised members of the National Executive Committee of the ANC Women's League for resigning in 1995, because they regarded Madikizela-Mandela as a "criminal". Madikizela-Mandela's daughter Zenani attacked those who "vilified" her mother, calling them hypocrites. After the public service, her body was interred at a cemetery in Fourways in the north of Johannesburg during a private memorial service.
In January 2018, the University Council and University Senate of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, approved the award of an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree to Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, in recognition of her fight against apartheid in South Africa.
Currently, Winnie Madikizela Mandela is 86 years, 2 months and 1 days old. Winnie Madikizela Mandela will celebrate 87th birthday on a Tuesday 26th of September 2023.
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