Mandela ex-wife linked to two more murders Firebomb killed a niece

Mandela bodyguard slain trying to kill innocent man

December 03, 1997|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Dudu Chili, mother and political activist, yesterday recounted the alleged cost to her family of running afoul of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during the turbulent late 1980s in the black township of Soweto.

She testified her house was burned down with her young niece in it and her son had to kill someone to escape a death threat imposed on him by Madikizela-Mandela and her notorious bodyguards, the Mandela United Football Club.

To respond today

Madikizela-Mandela, who is expected to respond to her accusers today, sat grim-faced as the litany of accusations continued yesterday before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

She has denied involvement in the violence in a previous closed-door hearing before the commission and in court testimony before her conviction in the kidnapping of four young soccer club team members, including murdered teen-ager Stompie Seipei.

The Madikizela-Mandela hearings are important for the future of the ruling African National Congress, in which she remains a power despite her divorce last year from President Nelson Mandela.

Problems for Dudu Chili and her family started when her son, Sibusiso, refused to join the soccer club, which was founded in 1986 to stop violence among dislocated youths in the township but quickly developed a reputation as a band of thugs who killed, assaulted and raped.

A member of the soccer club came to Chili's home in February 1989 to alert her that a death sentence had been imposed on her son by the bodyguards.

Dudu Chili said she was told that Madikizela-Mandela was one of the "core deciders" that her son should be killed.

After hiding her other two sons, Dudu Chili went to confront Madikizela-Mandela. She was told Sibusiso Chili's failure to join the club had convinced the members that he was a police informer.

Dudu Chili called her son at the tavern where he worked to inform him that he was being hunted. He returned home where his mother told him that men in long coats and balaclavas had the house under surveillance.

As he tried to get to a friend's house, Sibusiso Chili got into a fight with two club members. One fled after being disarmed of a 9-mm pistol loaded with 12 bullets. Sibusiso Chili fought the other youth, Maxwell Madondo, and started to drag him to his house.

'Why was I to be killed'

"I wanted him to furnish my mother with the reason why I was to be killed," he told the commission yesterday. "He didn't want to do that. He jumped the fence. I grabbed him. I hurled a big stone at him and he died." (He later clarified he hit him with the stone, rather than hurled it.)

Sibusiso Chili was found guilty of Madondo's murder, but the prosecution admitted that he had been defending himself against a death threat. He was sentenced to six years in prison, with four of the years suspended.

His mother was arrested for involvement in the murder, but released. On the night police detained her for questioning, her house was firebombed, burning her daughter, Barbara, and killing her niece, Finki.

She acknowledged that one of the reasons her house might have been firebombed was that she had given shelter to young men who wanted to escape from the soccer club, which was centered on Madikizela-Mandela's Soweto house.

"I was very hurt when this thing happened to me," said Dudu Chili. "Especially that it happened with the football club that was connected to Mrs. Mandela," with whom she had long worked in the community.

After the blaze, she said, two senior African National Congress officials called on her, suggesting a reconciliation between two of the most influential and politically active families in the township. Nothing came of their effort.

"I did expect she [Madikizela-Mandela] would have come and said it was a mistake it happened. But it never happened," Dudu Chili said.

Stabbed by coach

Another witness, pointing to a 2-inch scar on his neck, showed the commissioners how dangerous it was to defy Madikizela-Mandela and her soccer club.

Leratodi Ikaneng said he was stabbed by club coach Jerry Richardson after demanding an explanation from Madikizela-Mandela for the cold-blooded shooting of one of his friends, another club member.

After confronting her, he decided to flee from her house. He was later caught and brought to her in her dining room.

"She grabbed me by my coat," he said. "She started hitting me with open hands, then with fists."

As he was being put in a car, he again escaped and left Soweto. Three months later, when he returned to see his girlfriend, he was grabbed by Richardson and other club members, taken to a field where he was kicked to the ground, stabbed in the neck, thrown into a ditch and left for dead. He managed to crawl for help.

The hearings into the violence surrounding Madikizela-Mandela and her soccer club are expected to end today.

There will be no finding of guilt or innocence, but the commission, in its final report to President Mandela in June, will be able to make recommendations for prosecution of perpetrators of gross human rights violations.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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