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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 578
Paragraph Numbers 100 to 116
The South African Police
100 Evidence before the Commission shows that the Security Police were involved in a concerted disinformation campaign against the ANC and the South African Communist Party, and that Ms Madikizela-Mandela was a prominent target in the Witwatersrand region. Security policemen from Soweto admitted that she had been under constant electronic surveillance by means of telephone taps and bugs. They also admitted that Mr Jerry Richardson had acted as an informer. It is probable that other informers had also infiltrated the club.
101 The testimony of former Soweto security policemen was, however, characterised by a lack of candour in disclosing the nature of their operations regarding Ms Madikizela-Mandela, the MUFC and other associates of the Mandela household.
102 Although the Security Branch was aware of the close relationship between the MUFC and MK, none of the officers who testified acknowledged that the football club was of particular importance to them. The officer in charge of investigations regarding Ms Madikizela-Mandela testified that he was totally unaware that one of his colleagues was handling an informer inside the football club. All the Soweto policemen denied involvement in any STRATCOM activities against Madikizela-Mandela, contradicting the testimony of Security Branch officers from Pretoria and the Witwatersrand division who testified that she was a prominent subject for STRATCOM operations.
103 The testimony of former Soweto Security Branch members created the impression that they were at best uncoordinated and unprofessional. Having admitted that Ms Madikizela-Mandela was the most high-profile political figure in their jurisdiction, they were virtually unable – with the exception of one or two witnesses – to provide any details regarding their activities concerning her, apart from a few items that were included verbatim in each of their written submissions.
104 Like their former Murder and Robbery Unit colleagues, they denied adopting a strategy of lenience in regard to cases involving Madikizela-Mandela and asserted that the responsibility for decisions regarding these investigations rested with the Attorney-General. There was a general admission that one had to be extremely cautious when dealing with the Madikizela-Mandela. The Commission was left with the distinct impression that the Attorney-General was at pains not to prosecute her. Madikizela-Mandela’s subsequent prosecution in the kidnapping trial, albeit over twenty-seven months after the abductions, suggests that the authorities had been left no other option in the light of the revelations of Richardson’s trial the previous year. Strategic decisions with regard to the investigation and prosecution of Madikizela-Mandela appear to have been influenced strongly by the political circumstances and sensitivities of this period.
105 It is also evident that the chaos emanating from the Mandelas’ backyard had useful political ramifications for the police, as it created a discord within the q liberation movement that the authorities themselves had never been able to achieve.
106 Findings against the police will be made once the amnesty hearings of police members have been completed.
107 Although the Commission took into consideration the prevailing circumstances of the time, the ANC must bear some responsibility for not taking a more determined stance regarding the controversy surrounding Ms Madikizela-Mandela, particularly in the period following the unbanning of the organisation. The apparent complicity of elements within the ANC to obstruct the course of justice by removing witnesses and co-accused in the kidnapping and assault trial is a case in point.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s attitude towards the Commission
108 Madikizela-Mandela chose not to submit a statement to the Commission detailing the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the apartheid government and its security forces. She indicated during her first in camera hearing in September 1997 that she had intended to do this, but had changed her mind as a result of the treatment she received at the hands of the Commission. She was particularly upset that she had learnt of her pending subpoena through the media, and was disconcerted that she had been subpoenaed and not invited to appear before the Commission. She considered this a hostile and unnecessary action. In this regard, the Commission handled the matter badly and must apologise to Ms Madikizela-Mandela. The Commission itself recognises the enormous contribution that she made to the liberation struggle. For over two decades she suffered anguish in her separation from her husband, as well as persecution, banishment, imprisonment, torture and harassment at the hands of the former government.
109 During the public hearings, Madikizela-Mandela made strong inferences that the Commission had colluded with the ANC in arranging for the hearing to coincide with the pending ANC national conference and that this was part of a wider conspiracy to undermine her attempts to become the Deputy-President of the ANC. The Commission denied this allegation emphatically and reaffirms that position. It should also be pointed out that Madikizela-Mandela herself requested a public hearing. The dates for the hearing were settled with her legal representatives.
110 Ms Madikizela-Mandela was a reluctant witness at both the in camera and the public hearings. While the Commission was obliged on occasion to present to her allegations that may have appeared far-fetched, it became evident at times that she regarded this as a personal vendetta being waged against her by the Commission. This might also explain her contemptuous attitude towards certain witnesses and her reprimands to those who asked her questions that she did not like.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MS MADIKIZELA-MANDELA WAS CENTRAL TO THE ESTABLISHMENT AND FORMATION OF THE MUFC. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT CLUB DEVELOPED INTO A PRIVATE VIGILANTE UNIT OPERATING AROUND MADIKIZELA-MANDELA AND FROM HER HOUSES IN BOTH ORLANDO WEST AND DIEPKLOOF. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ARSON ATTACK ON THE MANDELA HOME IN ORLANDO WEST IN JULY 1988 WAS A MANIFESTATION OF THE COMMUNITY’S ANGER AGAINST MADIKIZELA- MANDELA AND THE FOOTBALL CLUB. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT POLITICAL, COMMUNITY AND CHURCH LEADERS REQUESTED MADIKIZELA-MANDELA TO DISBAND THE FOOTBALL CLUB. THESE REQUESTS WERE NOT ACCEDED TO AND THE LEADERS WERE SCORNED BY MADIKIZELA-MANDELA.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE MUFC WAS INVOLVED IN A NUMBER OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES IN THE COMMUNITY, INCLUDING KILLING, TORTURE, ASSAULTS AND ARSON. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MS MANDELA WAS AWARE OF THE CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AND THE DISQUIET IT CAUSED IN THE COMMUNITY AND DELIBERATELY CHOSE NOT TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS EMANATING FROM THE FOOTBALL CLUB.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THOSE WHO OPPOSED MADIKIZELA-MANDELA AND THE MUFC, OR DISSENTED FROM THEM, WERE BRANDED AS INFORMERS, THEN HUNTED DOWN AND KILLED. THEIR LABELLING AS INFORMERS WAS DEEMED TO JUSTIFY THESE KILLINGS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MEMBERS OF THE FOOTBALL CLUB OPERATED FROM MADIKIZELAMANDELA’S HOUSE AND THAT SHE HAD KNOWLEDGE OF THE CLUB MEMBERS’ ACTIVITIES AND/OR AUTHORISED AND/OR SANCTIONED THEM.
THE COMMISSION FINDS MS WINNIE MADIKIZELA MANDELA POLITICALLY AND MORALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTED BY THE MUFC. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MS MADIKIZELA-MANDELA FAILED TO ACCOUNT TO THE COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL STRUCTURES. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MADIKIZELA-MANDELA WAS RESPONSIBLE, BY OMISSION, FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
111 There can be no doubt that Ms Madikizela-Mandela was central to the establishment and formation of the MUFC. Club members were involved in at least eighteen killings, for which many of them are still serving prison sentences. Many of the operations which led to the killings were launched from her homes. Witnesses who appeared before the Commission implicated her in having known of these matters, in having actively participated in assaults or in having assisted in cover-ups and obstructing the course of justice. She denied all these allegations. In a number of incidents, people were labelled as informers, which ‘legitimated’ their execution by MUFC members. In this context, the Commission cannot ignore the paranoia that existed at the time regarding informers. There is no doubt that being under constant surveillance and living under siege may have made a considerable contribution to what eventually happened.
112 What is tragic is that so heroic a figure as Ms Madikizela-Mandela, with her own rich history of contribution to the struggle, became embroiled in a controversy that caused immeasurable damage to her reputation. There can be no doubt that she showed poor judgment in ignoring the advice of the community leaders and members of the MDM. The Commission has been unable to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to what went wrong, why Madikizela-Mandela was not accountable to the democratic structures inside the country, what influence the external liberation movement had over her, why she surrounded herself with persons of the calibre of Jerry Richardson and Xoliswa Falati, or why she became so isolated from democratic and community structures.
113 The Commission cannot but state that both the MDM and the ANC must accept responsibility for not bringing her into the fold or disciplining her when things were beginning to go wrong. This could perhaps have prevented some of the events that unfolded during that tragic period.
114 It is regrettable that Ms Madikizela-Mandela did not use the hearings as a forum to take the Commission and the nation into her confidence in order to shed light on the circumstances that resulted in the chaos and violence that emanated from her household. This would have assisted in the process of separating wild allegation from the morass of claims made against her.
115 There can be no doubt that there were forces at work that aimed to sow discord between Ms Madikizela-Mandela and the Soweto community and the liberation movements. The infiltration of the club by one or more police informers and the manipulation of events and circumstances by the security forces exacerbated the ensuing discord. These factors cannot, however, be held solely responsible either for the causes or the consequences of this conflict.
116 The Mandela United Football Club phenomenon was replicated in the vigilante actions of other, similar groups across the country during this period. The fundamental difference, however, was that this group enjoyed the patronage, support and protection of Ms Madikizela-Mandela and the prestige of association with the Mandela name. The club was initially admired by many in the local community, but within a few years became feared and loathed as it engaged in a series of acts of terror against its perceived enemies and those that defied its authority. Madikizela-Mandela’s proximity to these events is as undeniable as her complicity.