Her bodyguards were accused of the killings of at least 18 boys and men she allegedly accused of being spies acting against the liberation movement, most infamously the 14-year-old James “Stompie” Seipei Moeketsi, who was beaten and then had his throat slit.
In a 1991 trial, Madikizela-Mandela denied all knowledge of that killing. She was sentenced to a six-year jail term in his kidnapping and assault, which on appeal was reduced to a fine and suspended jail term for acting as an accomplice in the kidnapping.
Her statement refers to the merciless harassment she was subjected to by apartheid police. Her home was repeatedly raided by apartheid police, she was interrogated, arrested, banned and for several years banished to a town where neighbors were forbidden to speak to her. She also has said she was tortured while held in solitary confinement for more than a year.
She spent only three years together with her then husband, Nelson Mandela, before he was incarcerated for 27 years. In that time she became a hero in her own right of the struggle for black rule.
Madikizela-Mandela’s statement notes that three witnesses at the commission already have died — her former friend turned enemy Xoliswa Falati, bodyguard Richardson who was sentenced to life imprisonment for several killings and died in jail, and Sono’s father Nicodemus Sono, who died a few months ago.
“The father of Lolo Sono and unfortunately many others have also since passed, memorides fade with time,” her statement said. “It is difficult to legally imagine how and what new evidence is contemplated, if the TRC confronted with so much diverse testimony, some of which possibly inadmissible in the courts, courts could come to a finding different to that of the TRC.”
At the truth commission, Nicodemus Sono described how Madikizela-Mandela had come to his home in November 1988 with his son in a car, held at gunpoint and his face bruised from beatings. Sono said she had demanded photographs and documents, telling the father that his son was a spy for the apartheid police.
Sono said he had begged her to give him back his son. But he said she had driven away saying “the movement” would decide what to do with him.