Stompie Moeketsi

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James Seipei (1974–1989), also known as Stompie Moeketsi, 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]


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]


Moeketsi, together with Kenny Kgase, Pelo Mekgwe and Thabiso Mono, were kidnapped on 29 December 1988 from the Methodist manse in Orlando, Soweto.[1] Moeketsi was accused of being a police informer and after the 4 boys were kidnapped they were pleading and saying that Stompie isn't a police informer. Jerry Richardson, one of the members of Winnie Mandela's Football Club, was carrying a samurai-like sword before he closed the door and screams were heard as Stompie Moeketsi was murdered at the age of 14. His body was found on waste ground near Winnie Mandela's house on 6 January 1989, and recovered by the police.[1] His throat had been cut. Jerry Richardson, one of Winnie Mandela's bodyguards, was convicted of the murder. He claimed 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. In 1992 she was accused of ordering the murder of Dr. Abu-Baker Asvat, a family friend who had examined Seipei at Mandela's house, after Seipei had been abducted but before he had been killed.[5] Mandela's role was later probed as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, in 1997.[6] She was said to have paid the equivalent of $8,000 and supplied the firearm used in the killing, which took place on 27 January 1989.[7] The hearings were later adjourned amid claims that witnesses were being intimidated on Winnie Mandela's orders.[8]

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 in 1997, she said allegations that she was involved in at least 18 human rights abuses including eight murders were "ridiculous" and claimed that her main accuser, former comrade Katiza Cebekhulu, was a former "mental patient" and his allegations against her were "hallucinations".[9] The Commission found that the abduction had been carried out on Winnie Mandela's instructions, and that she had "initiated and participated in the assaults". However, with regard to the actual murder the Commission found Mandela only "negligent".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  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. ^ "South Africa Police Order Full Probe Of Mandela Charge", The Christian Science Monitor, 9 April 1992.
  6. ^ "Winnie may face fresh murder charge", The Independent, 28 November 1997
  7. ^ "Panel Hears Evidence Winnie Mandela Sought Doctor's Death", The New York Times, 2 December 1997.
  8. ^ Winnie hearing adjourned after intimidation claims. BBC. 1 December 1997.
  9. ^ "Winnie says evidence against her is 'ludicrous'". BBC. December 4, 1997. 

Further reading[edit]