Key witness tells Mandela trial about stabbing

March 08, 1991|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

JOHANNESBURG,SOUTH AFRICA — JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A key witness in the Winnie Mandela trial testified yesterday that Mrs. Mandela's bodyguards forced him to take part in a stabbing while he was their kidnap victim.

In his second day of testimony in the kidnapping and assault trial of Mrs. Mandela and three others, Kenneth Kgase said that he was given chores to perform after he and three other young men were abducted from a Methodist church parsonage in December 1988.

The tasks including washing up their own blood after they were severely beaten by Mrs. Mandela and her guards, Mr. Kgase said. "We washed the room and the surface of the Jacuzzi" at Mrs. Mandela's home, where they had been beaten, he said.

He said Stompie Moeketsi Seipei, the 14-year-old activist who was later found dead in an open field, was ordered to wash all of their blood-stained clothing. After doing the washing, Stompie "was assaulted again that night. The next day I saw he had a lump on his head," Mr. Kgase said.

He said Stompie was later taken away by Jerry Richardson, Mrs. Mandela's chief bodyguard, and did not reappear at the house during their captivity.

The three remaining kidnap victims were taken out to search for Andrew Ikaneng, a former member of the bodyguard, which called itself the Mandela United Football Club. Mr. Ikaneng was believed to have collaborated with the police, Mr. Kgase said.

He said Mr. Ikaneng was taken to see Mrs. Mandela and was later taken to "an open piece of land with no grass. Jerry told us this could be a place to kill a dog."

Mr. Kgase said Richardson ordered him to hold the alleged informant down while the chief bodyguard stabbed the man in the neck with a pair of garden shears. The other kidnap victims and several other Mandela bodyguards were present during the stabbing, he said.

Mr. Kgase said Richardson stabbed the man repeatedly, and "as soon as he was certain Ikaneng was breathing no more, Jerry told me to throw him into some reeds and I did so."

Though left for dead, Mr. Ikaneng survived.

Following the stabbing, he said, the kidnap victims "were allowed to sit out in the sun" outside Mrs. Mandela's house. "I saw Mrs. Mandela coming in and out but she never talked to me."

Richardson has been convicted and sentenced to death for Stompie's murder, and eight others, including Mrs. Mandela, have been charged with kidnapping and assault. Only four are standing trial, however, because the other four jumped bail and are believed to have fled the country.

Mrs. Mandela's attorney, George Bizos, began cross-examining Mr. Kgase yesterday by accusing him of being a "publicity seeker. . . . I am going to suggest to you that your story would not be worth much if you did not implicate Mrs. Mandela."

Mr. Kgase replied, "I am not implicating Mrs. Mandela; I am her victim."

Outside the court, police clashed with chanting and dancing supporters of Mrs. Mandela, some of them wearing colors of the African National Congress. A crowd has gathered outside the courtroom every day of the trial.

A police spokesman said four people were arrested outside the court yesterday after they ignored warnings to disperse.

Police also clashed with ANC supporters at the Johannesburg airport yesterday as they awaited the arrival of 94 exiles from Zambia.

Testimony in the Mandela trial continues today.

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