Driver of Winnie Mandela says police tortured him He tells of pressure to give statement

March 26, 1991|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

JOHANNESBURG,SOUTH AFRICA — JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Winnie Mandela's former driver said yesterday that police slapped him around and gave him electric shocks until he agreed to implicate Mrs. Mandela in the 1988 kidnapping and assault of four young men.

John Morgan, 61, who is on trial with Mrs. Mandela and two others, denied that he witnessed assaults on the four victims. He also denied that Mrs. Mandela accused one of the four, a 14-year-old activist later found dead, of having homosexual relations with a white Methodist minister.

The young men allegedly were abducted from the minister's home Dec. 29, 1988, and taken to Mrs. Mandela's house, where they were severely assaulted. Two of the victims have testified that they were abducted and beaten by Mrs. Mandela and her bodyguards.

All four defendants have pleaded innocent, and Mr. Morgan is attempting to prevent his statement to police after the incident from being admitted into evidence. He testified that he was tortured and that police attempted to bribe him into making the statement.

"A policeman rolled my trousers to above my knees. He administered electric shocks to my body," Mr. Morgan told the court. "I was handcuffed to a chair at the police station and slapped on my face from behind and from the front by three policemen."

Mr. Morgan also said the head of the Soweto murder and robbery squad, Col. Chris Oosthuizen, offered him "a big house, a beautiful car, some money and a gun to protect myself."

Colonel Oosthuizen testified last week that Mr. Morgan gave his statement voluntarily. Another officer identified by Mr. Morgan said he wasn't even assigned to work in Soweto at the time Mr. Morgan gave his statement but arrived months later.

Judge Michael Stegmann, hearing the case without a jury, is expected to rule this week whether he will allow the statement to be admitted.

Last week, he ruled that he would allow prosecutors to admit evidence of two other kidnappings and assaults that allegedly involved Mrs. Mandela. Prosecutors said the two incidents happened in the months preceding the December kidnapping. They say the incidents disprove her claim that she had no reason to believe the four young men were being held in her home against their will.

Mrs. Mandela, wife of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, has said she was out of town when the men were brought to her home. She said she was told they came willingly to escape the minister, who, she said she was told, had been sexually abusing them.

Two of the kidnap victims have denied any knowledge of homosexual activities at the Methodist house. The other surviving victim disappeared mysteriously before testimony began in the trial last month.

The body of the fourth victim, Stompie Moeketsi Seipei, 14, was found in an open field the month after the kidnapping. Mrs. Mandela's former chief bodyguard was convicted of murdering the teen-ager and was sentenced to death.

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