Winnie Mandelawas a very educated woman, who married an anti-apartheid political figure –Nelson Mandela. During their early years of marriage, Winnie realized that itwas 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 inprison, she realized the harsh conditions that South Africans were facing, andher fight towards the struggle intensified.
Winnie trusteda few people in her life, who she considered to be an inspiration to her, aswell as people she could confide in. However, as time and the struggleprogressed, these people turned against her and ended up being spies. When Nelsonwent to prison for his 27-year detention, Winnie was banned from many socialactivities and was restricted from any political meetings. During this time,many house raids was conducted in her home, as well as harassment andintimidation from police. She faced many interrogations and torture from thegovernment and police to get her to tell them information about the ANC and herhusband – she eventually broke and told them everything they wanted to knowwhen they started torturing other prisoners in front of her. After years ofbeing harassed, mentally and emotionally scarred, physically beaten as well asintimidated, imprisoned and banned multiple times, Winnie had become hostile.She became violent and erratic, and her methods of liberation becamemilitarized and dangerous.
When NelsonMandela was imprisoned, Winnie thought that the leadership role of the ANC wasimmediately hers. She took on more power and even built a palace for herself inOrlando West. Winnie’s club (MandelaUnited Football Club) (MUFC) that was created so that children could socializeand have fun, turned into a brutality place filled with torture and murder. James “Stompie” Seipei was a 14-year-old boy that was kidnappedand brutally murdered by the club, and directly involved Winnie. In 1997, Winnie Mandela and theMUFC was asked to appear before the TRC due to the allegations she faced aboutthe murder of Stompei, charges of kidnapping of four boys, one of which includeStompei and being an accessory to assault and murder.
As well as killing adoctor from Soweto for not agreeing to cover up the murder of the 14-year-oldboy. Winnie was a powerful leader. She did go to trial before, in 1991 for themurder of Stompei, but walked away freely even though she faced serious chargesof murder and kidnapping.
However, six years later, new evidence andaccusations emerged. 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 ontrial for – for example, James “Stompie” Seipei. When one applied for amnesty, thecommittee looked at different aspects of the situation.
They looked at themotive 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 brokentoo, as well as what extent human rights were violated.) and whether the perpetratorcarried out the harsh acts to benefit themselves. For example, if a personcommitted a crime because they were ordered too in order to receive money.
As wellas whether the act was committed in spite or directly aimed to target or hurt aperson intentionally – and the incident had to have occurred during theapartheid time period. Once a person had been considered for amnesty, theywould first have a private hearing in court and if thereafter, acts of grosshuman right violations had been found, a public hearing would be held where theperpetrator, victim and any other person of interest would be notified andasked to be present. And amnesty would have been granted if the committee washappy with the applicant and if they met the requirements for amnesty. If amnestywas denied, the applicant would be notified – along with the victim withreasons about why they were refused.
After Winnie’s trial in 1997, moreaccusations were being made, and she was also seen as the “Angel of Death” bythe parents of missing children in the townships. The MUFC hearings had accusers,members of the MUFC and witnesses who testified. Many people who testified inthe first trial came forward and admitted to lying in the first trial andthereafter spoke the truth – this brought new light upon the case and proved tohave completely new evidence and information compared to the trial in 1991. Winnie had faced many criminalaccusations, but in the end, she still chose to deny everything. Whilst Winnie denied allaccusations, many people at that point in time felt as if, if she had admittedto her wrong doings, and apologized for it then it would be possible for a lotof people to begin their roads to recovery and receive closure for the lovedones of the deceased. Thereafter, according to somesources, Winnie eventually apologized for the way she had handled situations. In 1997, whilst on trial with theTRC, Winnie said, “I am saying it is true, things went horribly wrong.
I fullyagree with that. And for that part of those painful years, when things wenthorribly wrong, and we were aware of the factors that led to that, for that, Iam deeply sorry.” The TRC that even though amnesty was not requested,prosecution should have been considered with cases like, Ms. Mandela’s thatinvolved such horrific violence and presented evidence of gross humanviolations. After her trials, Winnie was disowned by the AfricanNational Congress (ANC) for a while.
But thereafter remained a ruling figure inthe ANC and is still a high authority and powerful figure as the leader of theANC Women’s League. Winnie played avery influential role during the liberation struggle during apartheid and wasviewed highly by many, but once she became involved with the murders andtortures of others, presented by the football club, her self-view by others wastarnished and damaged her reputation. Apartheid wasextremely harsh and terrible for many, especially to those of colour. Many peoplesuffered and lost their loved ones.
It was a very disengaging time for thepeople of South Africa as the country was filled with hatred and anger. Whenapartheid had ended, it was the end of a torturous era, but just the beginningof a long road to recovery for South Africa as a whole. I believe that the TRC was necessary in orderfor us to grow as a country and unite as one. Although it was flawed and didhave many issues concerning communication amongst the committees,reconciliation forgiveness and healing were accepted by some who were affectedduring the apartheid era. It taught people to look past the pain in order tosee a brighter future. However, it wassuccessful to an extent.
People like Winnie Mandela were not prosecuted eventhough she had committed such atrocious crimes. Even though that according tosome sources, she did apologize to certain families for her crimes, no properpunishment was given. This meant that a lot of people were not compensated fortheir sufferings. The reasons I believe that it was only successful to anextent, is because people who were regarded as high authority figures, or had companionsin the government, were not prosecuted to the extent that they should have beenbased on their offenses. Although, itwas also good for South Africa as a whole because it made us unite and lead todemocracy. There are still people that are angry with what happened duringapartheid, and the anger and opinions of the older generations could be passeddown onto the younger generations, which inevitably is a bad thing because the youngergenerations are the future. And if the younger generations think of thegeneralized older generation, it would not allow South Africa to continue togrow and move forward.
I believe thatreconciliation was received throughout South Africa. Even though we aren’t entirelybonded, we have grown from the apartheid era. There are still aspects that aren’tresolved, but we have moved forward from where we were 50 years ago, and wewill continue to grow and learn from the mistakes made from the past.
SouthAfrica has progressed and this is partially because of the TRC which allowedpeople to be compensated, and then be rehabilitated towards a better future.