Mandela's ex-wife receives jail time for theft, fraud

Court finds she stole from loan accounts

April 26, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, who was once exalted as the "Mother of the Nation," was sentenced yesterday to five years in jail with one year suspended after being convicted Thursday of dozens of charges of theft and fraud.

Madikizela-Mandela, 66, who immediately issued a statement saying she would resign from Parliament and from posts in the governing African National Congress, had faced as many as 15 years in jail on 43 counts of fraud and 25 counts of theft.

But the prosecution said the age of Madikizela-Mandela should be taken into consideration, and, according to a legal provision cited by Magistrate Peet Johnson, Madikizela-Mandela is likely to serve less than a year in jail.

Addy Moolman, a broker who was convicted with Madikizela-Mandela, was sentenced to seven years in jail, with two of them suspended. Each was freed on $1,370 bail pending appeals.

A regional court in Pretoria found that Madikizela-Mandela had used her position as the president of the African National Congress Women's League to obtain fraudulent loans and funeral policies for poor women and then pilfered more than $100,000 from those accounts.

During the 27 years Nelson Mandela was held in prison, his wife helped carry on his struggle against apartheid.

Mandela's release set the country on the path toward a peaceful transition to a black government, but it marked the start of new troubles for the first lady.

In 1991, Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and acting as an accessory to assault in connection with the death of a 14-year-old boy in Soweto township.

The couple separated shortly afterward and divorced in 1996.

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