S. African teen was killed by police spy Testimony in case of Winnie Mandela reveals official link

Confessed killer denies spying

South African police chief tells of paying murderer $2,100 for his services

November 29, 1997|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The confessed killer of Stompie Seipei, the teen-age member of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's "football club" who was beaten and murdered after being accused of being a police informer, was a police spy himself, South Africa's police chief told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission yesterday.

And, according to a police intelligence officer who also testified, Stompie was killed because he had discovered the double role Jerry Richardson was playing and was threatening to expose him.

Richardson, who was convicted of the murder and is now seeking amnesty for the slaying of Stompie and two other youths, was the coach of the Mandela United Football Club, a group of young men who, according to testimony, terrorized Soweto in the late 1980s.

Police Commissioner George Fivaz said that after Richardson was sentenced to life imprisonment for Stompie's murder, he demanded 10,000 rand ($2,100) he said he was owed by police for information he had given them while living at the Mandela house.

He wanted the money before he would help detectives solve other murders he had committed.

Richardson was given the funds after police verified that he had been an informer but had not been paid. He then gave police details of the burial places of two or three other victims, helping the police solve one of the crimes.

"I established from the investigators that the information from the source was useful," Fivaz said of Richardson's service.

Richardson is to testify next week. His lawyer, Tony Richard, told the commission that his client denies being a police informer.

Earlier the attorney said Richardson claimed that all his crimes were committed with the full knowledge and co-operation of Madikizela-Mandela.

The commission is investigating the violence associated with Madikizela-Mandela and her football club, which acted as her bodyguard in an era when near political anarchy and lawlessness ruled the black townships. The government had banned almost all political activity and detained many established black leaders.

The hearings, which began Monday and continue next week, have produced allegations linking the former wife of President Nelson Mandela with at least six murders and numerous assaults.

Disinformation against her

She was convicted of kidnapping Stompie and three young men from a Methodist mission house in December 1988, after reports that they were being sexually abused by the white minister. She has denied all knowledge of the teen's death and of the other murders and assaults.

The commission was also told yesterday that while the violence was erupting, Madikizela-Mandela was the target of intense police spying and disinformation. She was put under 24-hour surveillance, her phone was tapped and her home bugged.

Paul Erasmus, the police intelligence officer charged with destroying her image, said he asked local undercover police agents in her Soweto hometown for more information on the Stompie killing but was not given it.

"I heard at the time in official circles that he was murdered by Jerry Richardson after he [Stompie] had found out that Richardson was working for the security branch and threatened to expose him," he said in a document released yesterday.

Erasmus was gathering information to use in his campaign to undermine her influence in the African National Congress, her support from her main constituency -- radical black youths -- and her reputation abroad.

"President Mandela was the obvious target," he told the commission. "But due to his impeccable integrity, it was difficult to target him."

Instead, the security forces concentrated on his wife, presenting her as beyond her husband's control and "running rampant in the townships with her soccer club, who were inter alia intimidating the local population."

Both fact and fiction were used by Stratcom, the police department's "dirty tricks" section, which continued its campaign against Madikizela-Mandela after her husband's release from prison in 1990. The aim was to diminish the ANC before the 1994 elections, which brought this country's first majority black government.

After Mandela's release, he said, intelligence officers were told they had four years to reduce the ANC "to just another party."

Scandalous rumors

Erasmus said he leaked reports that the Mandelas were constantly arguing, that Nelson Mandela was going senile and had lost control of radical cadres in the party.

Using paid or "friendly" reporters at home and abroad, he suggested that Madikizela-Mandela had sold out to "white capitalism" by having an affair with a leading white banker.

He even circulated a photograph of her with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was to become the chairman of the commission to which he testified yesterday, suggesting romantic involvement between the two.

Ironically, he said, on the eve of this week's commission hearings reports began to circulate that he was having an affair with Madikizela-Mandela.

He said it was an an attempt to discredit him.

Pub Date: 11/29/97

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