AHEAD of the burial of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela this weekend, the truth about the Stompie Seipei saga and the massive Security Branch operation designed to discredit and isolate her has finally emerged..
For the first time South Africans will be able to view Pascale Lamche’s award-winning documentary Winnie tonight at 9 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 the late General Hendrik van den Bergh, head of the intelligence apparatus in the 1960s and 1970s. In the documentary, 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 it had to de-legitimise the radical wing of the ANC personified by figures like 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 flogged into America and it was shown on 40 different channels. 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. He said: “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 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 football club who was charged and sentenced for Stompie’s murder, admitted at the time of the TRC 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 Security Branch Soweto poured petrol on the fire and let them destroy each other,” Erasmus said.
Not only had the football club become a dangerous gang of agent 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 Cebekhulu, who had been in the Mandela Football Club, was her 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, although the TRC found him to be an unreliable witness with multiple 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 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 Jerry Richardson being transported to the TRC from prison and walking into the TRC carrying a copy of Katiza’s Journey. According to the documentary’s director, Xoliswa 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 minister of safety and security Sydney Mufamadi. While the documentary says Heslinga went to see Mufamadi in 1994, the director has since said this was an ellipsis as it was actually 1995 when Heslinga claims then-police commissioner George Fivaz took him to see Mufamadi.
“The minister told me we must re-start the investigation into all cases on Winnie Mandela from Stompie right through and try to get evidence so she can be tried for murder,” Heslinga claims in the documentary.
“The minister gave us carte blanche money wise, logistics wise and said we can travel throughout the world,” he said.
Mufamadi has refused to make any comment on the record at this time in response to the allegations made in the documentary.
In a recent interview, Fivaz claimed he ordered the reopening of the investigation into Madikizela-Mandela as a result of pressure from Tony Leon.
“Leon requested that the investigation be reopened due to new evidence suggesting Mandela was directly involved in the assault and murder of Stompie Seipei,” Fivaz said.
The finding of the independent task team was there was no evidence of Madikizela-Mandela’s role in the murder and Fivaz reported this to the TRC in 1997. In the documentary, Madikizela- Mandela suggests the subpoena for her to testify at the TRC was linked to her nomination for the position of deputy president of the ANC.
“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 (then Archbishop Desmond Tutu) was acting there for the public, acting for Stratcom.”