Johannesburg - In the week that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is being laid to rest, South Africans are finally being told the truth about the Stompie Seipei saga, and the massive Security Branch operation to discredit and isolate her.
For the first time South Africans will be able to view Pascale Lamche’s award-winning documentary Winnie tonight on eNCA, which exposes the extent of the apartheid regime’s Machiavellian plan to neutralise her as a political force.
“We will destroy that woman,” were the words of General Hendrik van den Bergh, head of the intelligence apparatus in the 1960s and '70s.
In the documentary, the director of Stratcom (Covert Strategic Communications) Vic McPherson reveals the details of Operation Romulus - a counter-revolutionary strategy which had Madikizela-Mandela as its primary target.
The goal was to discredit her to such an extent that she would be isolated and eliminated from the inner circle of the ANC.
Aware that it was losing power, the National Party wanted a centrist ANC to emerge, which meant that it needed to delegitimise the radical wing of the ANC personified by figures such as Madikizela-Mandela, Chris Hani, Harry Gwala and Peter Mokaba.
“I already had 40 journalists working directly or indirectly for me. So through them I could have specific reports placed in the newspapers, and it would be front page,” McPherson boasts.
“I made a documentary film through the SABC of course that I flogged to America, and it was shown on 40 different channels. And that led to her being declared an international terrorist.”
In a stunning confession on Monday, former Security Branch policeman Paul Erasmus, who worked for Stratcom, further outlined how the smear campaign worked, saying: “I would drop letters to the local and international press about Winnie being a hopeless drunkard, unstable and having relationships with everyone that came along. On the political side, it was to drive divisions between her and the ANC.”
The most shocking revelation of Erasmus this week was his claim that the entire Mandela Football Club were informers working for the Security Branch.
“This included Winnie’s aide-de-camp Xoliswa Falati,” Erasmus said.
Jerry Richardson, the coach of the Mandela Football Club, who was charged and sentenced for Stompie’s murder, admitted at the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he was a Security Branch informer.
“Jerry Richardson found out about Stompie, and Stompie was told about him, and it was very possible that the Security Branch in Soweto poured petrol on the fire and let them destroy each other,” Erasmus said.
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Not only had the football club become a dangerous gang of agents provocateurs, but the propaganda smear-campaign had been highly effective, as Murphy Morobe announced in early 1989 that the Mass Democratic Movement was distancing itself from Madikizela-Mandela, and directly linked her to Seipei’s death.
In the 1991 trial, Katiza Cebek- hulu, who had been in the Mandela Football Club, was Madikizela-Mandela’s co-accused and later made criminal accusations against her at the TRC in 1997. Cebekhulu claimed she had stabbed Seipei twice with a shiny object, but the TRC found him to be an unreliable witness with inconsistencies in his testimony.
According to Erasmus, he was working for the Security Branch.
The documentary also provides footage of Cebekhulu having been taken under the wing of conservative British MP Baroness Emma Nicholson, living with her in Britain, where she worked with him on drafting the book Katiza’s Journey. The book was a damning condemnation of Madikizela-Mandela, allegedly inspired by the Security Branch.
The documentary shows footage of Richardson being transported to the TRC from prison and walking into the TRC carrying the book Katiza’s Journey.
According to the documentary’s director, Falati also walked into the TRC carrying the book, prior to making wild accusations that Madikizela-Mandela was responsible for various murders, including that of Seipei.
The other explosive allegation made in the Winnie documentary is that in the new democratic dispensation, the commissioner of police had taken the head of the Murder and Robbery Squad, Henk Heslinga, to meet the new safety and security minister, Sydney Mufamadi.
While the documentary says Heslinga went to see Mufamadi in 1994, the director has since said it was actually 1995 when Heslinga claims then police commissioner George Fivaz took him to see Mufamadi.
“The minister told me we must restart the investigation into all cases on Winnie Mandela From Stompie right through to try to get evidence so that she can be tried for murder,” Heslinga claims in the documentary.
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“The minister gave us carte blanche money wise, logistics wise and said we can travel throughout the world,” Heslinga said.
Mufamadi has refused to comment on the record in response to the allegations.
In a recent interview, Fivaz claims he ordered the reopening of the investigation into Madikizela-Mandela as a result of pressure by former DA leader Tony Leon.
“Leon requested that the investigation be reopened due to new evidence suggesting (Winnie) Mandela was directly involved in the assault and murder of Stompie Seipei,” Fivaz said.
The finding of the independent task team was that there was no evidence of Madikizela-Mandela’s role in Seipei’s murder, and Fivaz reported this to the TRC in 1997.
In the documentary, Madikizela- Mandela suggests that the subpoena for her to testify at the TRC was linked to her nomination for deputy president of the ANC.
“The subpoena could have been served last year It was an unhealthy coincidence in my mind that this must happen a few days before the national conference. To me, it suggests that it is part and parcel of that agenda,” Madikizela-Mandela said at the TRC.
“I was the only one in the ANC who was taken to the TRC by her own government,” she said. “I was seething with rage he (Tutu) was acting there for the public, acting for Stratcom.”
Winnie will be aired on Wednesday night on eNCA at 9pm.
Independent Foreign Service