May 8, 1996 Sapa


The mother of teenage activist Stompie Seipei, whose badly decomposed body was found dumped in a Soweto field in 1989, on Wednesday told of her struggle to bury her son amid persistent rumours that he was not dead but had fled to Botswana.

Testifying on the second day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Durban hearings, Joyce Seipei said neighbours in Tumahole, Parys, in the Free State still refused to believe her son was dead.

"They still say that Stompie is in Botswana and that I buried the wrong person. But I am satisfied that I buried Stompie."

Seipei said when she was taken to the police mortuary to identify her son's body she recognised a birthmark and several old scars even though he was in an advanced stage of decomposition and his eyes had been gouged out.

Stompie's corpse was discovered several days after he was abducted with three other youths from the Methodist manse in Soweto and taken to ANC MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's house.

In a subsequent court case, Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault while former Mandela United football coach Jerry Richardson was found guilty of Stompie's murder and jailed.

Seipei said Stompie, who was detained for about 11 months in prisons at Leeuhof, Sasol, Heilbron, Koppies and Potchefstroom, had fled to Johannesburg to escape harassment by police.

During the mid-1980s he became the youngest political detainee when he was jailed at the age of ten.

"The last time I saw him alive was on December 1 1988 when he appeared in court in connection with burning of a municipal car. Stompie was not at the next hearing on January 12 1989," Seipei said.

Stompie's lawyer, a Mr Du Toit, told her he was dead.

However several of her son's friends maintained he was still alive.

On January 30 Paul Verryn and Bishop Peter Storey of the Johannesburg Methodist church came to her house to tell her that Stompie had been taken from the manse to Mandela's house.

"They said his friends had been beaten and they had heard that my son had been beaten to death."

In mid-February she was taken to Diepkloof mortuary to identify Stompie's body.

"Many people told me it wasn't Stompie, but fingerprints taken later confirmed it was my son."

Mandela was reported in the media on February 24 1989 as saying Stompie was still alive.

Seipei said she buried her son the following day.

"I was persecuted by people who accused me of still being in contact with my son who was alive and sending me money. People toyi-toyi'd outside my house denouncing me."

Seipei asked the commission for financial assistance saying she was poor and lived in a shack.

"I also want to know the truth about my son's death," she said.

South African Press Association, 1996
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