Former safety and security minister Sydney Mufamadi called a press conference to put his side of the story.

 Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency
Johannesburg - The ANC has moved to block some of its senior leaders from setting the record straight as the debate over the legacy of late Struggle icon ­Winnie Madikizela-Mandela threatened to spiral out of control.

On Monday, ANC veteran and former safety and security ­minister Sydney Mufamadi defended himself against allegations that he was part of a plot to neutralise and politically weaken Madikizela-Mandela.

Some leaders of the ANC Women’s League, who resigned from the leadership of the organisation when Madikizela-Mandela was president, issued a statement saying they also wanted to set the record straight on their actions.

This comes after EFF leader Julius Malema accused them of “selling out” Madikizela-Mandela when they resigned from the national executive of the league.

READ: #SydneyMufamadi denies allegations in #Winnie documentary

READ MORE: 'Allegations that Tony Leon was behind persecution of Winnie a lie'

On Monday night, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said the ­country was still mourning.

“Firstly, let me state categorically that the ANC does not believe that those allegations are true because the historical time factor is what was wrong in the first place.

“In brief, there was acrimony within the ANCWL and it was felt by these women that it was best for them to resign at the moment to allow the ANCWL to continue with their work,” Duarte said.

She said Madikizela-Mandela had received a final farewell filled with dignity and love.

“It is not appropriate that only 48 hours after she was laid to rest, our organisation participates in controversial debates regarding her life and her legacy. We know that in some instances this debate is intended to detract from the significant role that she played in the liberation Struggle and in the ANC.

“Accordingly, the ANC officials and the national working committee are discussing ways in which we will further honour her contribution and her life.

“We will also, at the right time, address allegations that seek to cast aspersions on individual members of our movement and the role played by the apartheid security agents in fostering divisions within the ANC, but we say that this is not the time,” Duarte said.

She appealed to members “not to be provoked at this sad time”.

ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula said the members of the ANC whose names were circulated on social media had approached the organisation. They included Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

“The organisation advised that it was not advisable at this period, while we are still mourning, to be speaking individually about all sorts of accusations that will be made, and aspersions on individuals. It does not mean that the ANC will not respond on those issues. At an appropriate time and moment that allows, the ANC will speak on those issues,” Mbalula said.

Mufamadi has accused French film-maker Pascal Lamche of depending on former apartheid operatives and excluding the ANC in her latest documentary on Madikizela-Mandela.

Former murder and robbery squad head Henk Heslinga claims in the documentary that Mufamadi used his position as both a national executive committee member of the ANC and minister to demand the reopening of the investigation into Madikizela-Mandela in a bid to secure her conviction, including for the killing of Stompie Seipei.

Other members belonging to the counter-insurgency outfit of the Security Branch, Stratcom, also claimed to have worked with journalists to discredit Madikizela-Mandela, including Stratcom director Vic McPherson and Paul Erasmus.

“The minister told me we must restart the investigation into all cases on Winnie Mandela, from Stompie right through, and try to get evidence so that she can be tried for murder,” Heslinga says in the documentary.

Mufamadi dismissed the docu­mentary as being similar to what Stratcom was peddling, as it disregarded those who knew Madikizela-Mandela better, and opted to depend on apartheid operatives.

“You are listening to Stratcom operatives in that documentary and you gain an impression that they cared about black lives. That is the impression you easily get, unless you have sufficient strategic literacy to see through these hidden nuances.

“You might as well ask the chief of Stratcom operations to write a biography of Winnie Mandela, if you want to approach it this way that the views of her own comrades must be subservient to the views of Stratcom,” Mufamadi said.

He denied allegations that he called for the reinvestigation of Madikizela-Mandela by then police commissioner George Fivaz, adding that it was former DA leader Tony Leon who made the request.

DA veteran Douglas Gibson responded on behalf of Leon, who is mourning the death of his father.

“Tony Leon was doing his job, and any allegation he was ‘behind’ the persecution of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is also a lie.

“Clearly, the public memory is rather short, and any reminder of some facts during the current canonisation of Madikizela-Mandela is probably unwelcome,” Gibson said.

The Star