JOHANNESBURG December 17 1997 - SAPA


Democratic Party leader Tony Leon on Wednesday requested Witwatersrand Attorney-General Andre de Vries to pursue prima facie evidence against Winnie Madikizela-Mandela with a view to prosecuting her.

Addressing a media conference in Johannesburg following his meeting with De Vries, Leon said the AG was referred to three cases highlighted in the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings into atrocities allegedly committed by Madikizela-Mandela and her Mandela United Football Club bodyguards in Soweto in the late 1980s.

Leon said the AG was asked to consider prosecuting the ANC Woman's League president for the kidnapping, assault and possible murder on November 14, 1988 of Lolo Sono and Siboniso Shabalala, and the assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm on Maggie Dlamini in January 1988.

TRC witnesses implicated Madikizela-Mandela in the three cases.

DP justice spokesman Douglas Gibson, who attended the meeting with the AG, said De Vries indicated he had asked for the transcript of the TRC evidence and would make a decision in the new year on whether to prosecute.

Said Leon: "Mrs Mandela gave seven hours of personal testimony to the TRC, following eight days of evidence from 43 witnesses against her. She has thus far only offered a slight, tiny ackowledgment that "things went wrong" in Soweto in the 1980s.

"While her trial for kidnapping Stompie Seipei ended inconclusively six years ago, it is now apparent that many witnesses have altered their testimony. Others, previously missing or abducted, have now re-emerged and the above three cases, at least, cry out for prosecution and resolution."

Leon said the TRC was not a court of law and that Madikizela-Mandela had not applied for amnesty.

"Justice, so long delayed and denied to the alleged victims of Mrs Mandela and her football club, is required. Equally, Mrs Mandela is fully entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty, but this presumption requires testing before a competent court of law."

Leon said the three cases emerged at the TRC as those where the evidence of the principal witnesses involved was either corroborated, or went unchallenged and not seriously contradicted.

"These cases have not been highlighted in an attempt to exclude other equally serious matters referred to the TRC. But they remain, in our view, the three, which prima facie, could and should be prosecuted without delay."

The TRC heard evidence from Nicodemus Sono that he last saw his son, Lolo, on November 13, 1988, in the back of a minibus in which Madikizela-Mandela was sitting in the passenger seat. He said Lolo had obviously been severely beaten. She accused his son of being a "dog and a spy". The vehicle was driven off and he never saw his son again.

Shabalala's mother, Nomsa Shabalala, held Madikizela-Mandela responsible for her son's disappearance. Young men came looking for Lolo Sono and her son on November 13, 1988.

Dlamini alleged Madikizela-Mandela beat her in a jealous rage after she discovered they shared a boyfriend. Dlamini was three months pregnant when she was allegedly assaulted, and claimed her baby was brain damaged as a result.

Leon said the AG's office had handled the matter "disgracefully" in the past, but added that De Vries was new in office.

Leon said he told the AG: "I regret to state that notwithstanding that these cases date back more than nine years, the reasons given by your office for the delay and ultimate failure to prosecute Madikizela-Mandela and others for these heinous offences is a sad reflection on your office and the upholding of the rule of law in South Africa."

Gibson said De Vries informed them that two police dockets on the cases had disappeared. This the DP found inexplicable.

Gibson said the action the DP was taking was not motivated by revenge or bad feelings.

"It is to uphold the rule of law and to demonstrate that no-one is above the law," he said.

South African Press Association, 1997
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