Winnie Mandela was a very complex person. A struggle hero on one side but a person who seemed to lack a conscience or sense of guilt on the other. A massive bundle of contradictions. A history of loose morals, theft, and viciousness. A history of determination, grit and single-minded focus on the liberation of her people.
Her death has produced something of a historical revisionism that makes her a major revolutionary and heroic figure. However, this myth takes a savage beating when one does a bit of research and uncovers some truly terrible things she is responsible for.
However much I try to bring up the positive I cannot brush aside the negative. She did suffer torture, harassment and even spent a year in prison in solitary confinement. I think this and the adulation twisted and turned her into the person with very limited moral compass she became.
Certainly it could and did snuff out so much of her potential and turn her into the person with a severely diminished moral compass and a cavalier attitude to the truth and a sense of entitlement.
Her planning and execution of the murder of 14-year-old activist Stompie Moeketsi Seipei was only the tip of the iceberg. She and her henchmen killed many people and Winnie reported took part in the torture and beating of some of the victims. Her former doctor had to go on the run as she had ordered him murdered.
She has been accused of ordering the assault, kidnapping abducted and murder of several more people.
Then there is her love of luxury and financing it through fraud and embezzlement. She actually stole money meant to be loaned to widows when running the Social Welfare Department of the ANC. She resigned.
She was to continue with her sticky fingers when she stole money from the ANC Women’s League. In 2003 she was found guilty on 43 counts of fraud and 25 counts of theft. The money was stolen from a funeral fund, supposedly for helping members with bereavements and left applicants stranded.
She was fired from her Ministerial job for failing to not only report what she called donations but were bribes and lasted less than a year as a Minister in a welter of allegations of corruption.
Her venality and greed at times made her sink into the depths of absurdity. She attempted to grab Nelson Mandela’s home in Transkei and claimed her divorce from Madiba was fraudulent after his death and contested his will.
She was known for her many affairs and even worse threatening violence to any young women who seemed to be involved or have an interest in her boyfriends.
In reaction to this story, Still Phiri writes:
That is not true ba Brian. You’re the one who did the research that is better than the new one we just got in the documentary Winnie? She was a very powerful woman who the apartheid government conspired to make her look like a criminal. That was the work of stratcom. Watch the Winnie documentary and refute that. She was never convicted of those accusations. The truth is finally out. Many people bought the same lies that you’re talking about but people now know the truth. Women dressed up in doeks and black the other Friday. It was marvelous to see the number of people who are not buying the story the fake story.
Humphrey Malimba Kasase’s take:
“In order for Winnie Mandela to have made that much impact, she needed to be exactly how she was. She understood her enemy too well and had therefore realized that the way to make things work didn’t call for her having a priest-like, obedient and humble spirit towards the white regime, or even towards the many people who tried to sell the ANC secrets out to the enemy side for money. If Winnie wasn’t how she was, Nelson Mandela’s force outside of Prison would have somewhat been shriveled. Winnie wasn’t seeking to be a dignified stateswoman who had to go by the logical conventional ways to get what she and her people wanted. Her very life was a struggle and it hardened her everyday and turned her into a rough, aggressive savage- there was no other way to become when you were Winnie.
That woman and her husband had sacrificed and lost so much including each other. What society perceived as abnormal behavior was perfectly normal in Winnie’s world and it meant being exactly how she was- a brutal gangster. She probably smoked joints too and did a few other crazy things we don’t even know about. It was all part of the package of being Winnie. As of her screwing a few guys..so what?! A lot you on this thread can’t even keep it zipped on the outside and yet you have spouses you go home to everyday. It’s OK, she was only human. 27 years and you are as hot as Winnie was?? Mmnnn Mwisho..
Rest in Peace Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the greatest Female freedom fighter Africa has ever produced.”