Stompie Seipei

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Stompie Moeketsi
Born
James Seipei

1974
Parys, Free State, South Africa
Died1 January 1989
Cause of deathThroat slit by Jerry Richardson
Other namesStompie Moeketsi

James Seipei (1974–1 January 1989), also known as Stompie Moeketsi, or Stompie Sepei was a teenage United Democratic Front (UDF) activist from Parys in South Africa. He and three other boys were kidnapped on 29 December 1988 by members of Winnie Mandela's bodyguards, known as the Mandela United Football Club. Moeketsi was murdered on 1 January 1989, the only one of the boys to be killed.[1]

Activism[edit]

Moeketsi joined the street uprising against Apartheid in the mid-1980s at age ten, and soon took on a leading role. He became the country's youngest political detainee when he spent his 12th birthday in jail without trial. At the age of 13 he was expelled from school.[2]

Murder[edit]

Moeketsi, together with Kenny Kgase, Pelo Mekgwe and Thabiso Mono, were kidnapped on December 29, 1988 from the Methodist manse in Orlando, Soweto, run by Paul Verryn.[1] Moeketsi was accused of being a police informer. Screams were heard as Stompie Moeketsi was murdered, at the age of 14, by Jerry Richardson, member of Winnie Mandela's "Football Club". His body was recovered on waste ground near Winnie Mandela's house on January 6, 1989.[1] His throat had been cut. Jerry Richardson, one of Winnie Mandela's bodyguards, was convicted of the murder. He stated that she had ordered him, with others, to abduct the four youths from Soweto, of whom Moeketsi was the youngest.[3] The four were severely beaten.[2]

Involvement of Winnie Mandela[edit]

In 1991, Winnie Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault,[4] but her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a two-year suspended sentence on appeal. Mandela's role was later probed as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, in 1997.[5]

This incident became a cause célèbre for the apartheid government and opponents of the ANC, and Winnie Mandela's iconic status was dealt a heavy blow.

Appearing before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1997, she said allegations that she was involved in at least 18 human rights abuses including eight murders were "ridiculous" and said that her main accuser, former comrade Katiza Cebekhulu, was a former "mental patient" and his allegations against her were "hallucinations".[6] Cebekhulu had, himself, before the 1991 trial, been tortured, and kidnapped to Zambia, where he was detained for almost three years, at the behest of the ANC, before moving to the UK.[1][7] The Commission found that the abduction of Stompie Moeketsi had been carried out on Winnie Mandela's instructions, and that she had "initiated and participated in the assaults", had resisted efforts by the "Mandela Crisis Committee" to get the boys released, and had attempted to cover-up the death by claiming that Moeketsi had fled to Botswana. With regard to the actual murder of Seipei, the Commission found Mandela "negligent in that she failed to act responsibly in taking the necessary action required to avert his death".[1]

In February 1989, Dr Abu Asvat, a prominent Soweto doctor,[8], who had examined Seipei after his abduction, was shot dead in his surgery.[9] Winnie Mandela's alleged role in Asvat's killing was later probed as part of the TRC hearings, after Asvat's murderers as well as her associate, Katiza Cebekhulu implicated her in the murder of Asvat, as part of a cover-up of Seipei's death.[10][11][10][12] The hearings were later adjourned amid claims that witnesses were being intimidated on Winnie Mandela's orders.[13]

In a 2017 documentary, former Soweto police officer Henk Heslinga alleged that former safety minister Sydney Mufamadi had instructed him to re-open the investigation into the death of Seipei, for the purpose of charging Winnie with murder. In the documentary, Heslinga claimed that Richardson admitted during an interview that Seipei discovered he was an informant, and that he killed the child to cover his tracks.[14] However, Mufamadi denied the allegations in the documentary, stating that Helsinga's statements were false.[15][16] The documentary had been described by in a review by Vanity Fair as "unabashedly one-sided" and "overwhelmingly defensive".[17] Commentator Max du Preez, called the decision by television station eNCA to broadcast the documentary in the week prior to Madikizela-Mandela's funeral without context a "serious mistake", and he described it as making "outrageous claims",[18] while former TRC commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza questioned the motives of the documentary maker.[19]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Fall of Winnie Mandela Began Nearly 2 Years Ago; Erratic Behavior Preceded Recent Violence", Washington Post, February 18, 1989
  • Emma Gilbey: The Lady. The life and times of Winnie Mandela. London, Vintage, 1994. ISBN 0-09-938801-4
  • Obituary: "Winnie Mandela". The Economist, page 78, April 7, 2018.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Tutu, Desmond; Mkhize, Hlengiwe; Boraine, Alex; Ntsebeza, Dumisa; Burton, Mary; et al. (October 29, 1998). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report (PDF) (Report). 2. South Africa: Truth and Reconciliation Commission. pp. 555–582. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Christopher S. Wren (February 16, 1989). "In Storm Over Winnie Mandela, Body Is Identified as Soweto Boy's". New York Times.
  3. ^ Fred Brigland: Katiza's journey. Beneath the surface of South Africa's shame. London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1997. ISBN 0333727371
  4. ^ "1991: Mandela's wife jailed for kidnaps". BBC. May 14, 1991.
  5. ^ "Winnie may face fresh murder charge", The Independent, 28 November 1997
  6. ^ "Winnie says evidence against her is 'ludicrous'". BBC. December 4, 1997.
  7. ^ "Alive, well - and still determined to nail Winnie". The Independent. 1997-12-07. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  8. ^ michelle (25 May 2012). "Dr. Abu Baker Asvat". South African History Online.
  9. ^ "South Africa Police Order Full Probe Of Mandela Charge", The Christian Science Monitor, 9 April 1992.
  10. ^ a b "Winnie may face fresh murder charge", The Independent, 28 November 1997.
  11. ^ "Panel Hears Evidence Winnie Mandela Sought Doctor's Death", The New York Times, 2 December 1997.
  12. ^ "Panel Hears Evidence Winnie Mandela Sought Doctor's Death", The New York Times, 2 December 1997.
  13. ^ Winnie hearing adjourned after intimidation claims. BBC. 1 December 1997.
  14. ^ "Why Winnie Mandela could not be forgiven - Macleans.ca". Macleans.ca. 2018-04-04. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  15. ^ "#SydneyMufamadi denies allegations in #Winnie documentary". IOL News.
  16. ^ "AS IT HAPPENED: Investigations into Winnie 'took place at behest of Tony Leon' - Mufamadi". News24.
  17. ^ Lodge, Guy (30 January 2017). "Sundance Film Review: 'Winnie'". Variety.
  18. ^ "Winnie's death captured by populist politics". News24.
  19. ^ "Dumisa Ntsebeza accuses Winnie documentary maker of having 'no regard for our people'". News24.