Stompie Seipei

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Stompie Moeketsi
James Seipei

Parys, Free State, South Africa
Died1 January 1989(1989-01-01) (aged 14–15)
Cause of deathMurdered, throat 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]


Moeketsi joined the street uprising against Apartheid in April 1985 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, the home of Methodist minister, Paul Verryn.[1] Moeketsi was wrongly[1] accused of being a police informer. Screams were heard as the 14-year-old Moeketsi was murdered by Jerry Vusumusi Richardson, a member of Winnie Mandela's team of bodyguards. His body was recovered on waste ground near Winnie Mandela's house on 6 January 1989.[1] His throat had been cut. Richardson was later convicted of the murder. He stated that Winnie Mandela 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 (TRC) hearings, in 1997.[5]

This incident became a cause célèbre.

Appearing before the 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 United Kingdom.[1][7] The Commission found that the abduction of Stompie Seipei 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 Seipei 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, Abu Asvat, a prominent Soweto doctor,[8] who had examined Seipei after his abduction, was shot dead at his medical practice.[9] Winnie Mandela's alleged role in Asvat's killing was later probed as part of the TRC hearings after Asvat's murder; in addition her associate, Katiza Cebekhulu, implicated her in the murder of Asvat, as part of a cover-up of Seipei's death.[5][10] The hearings were later adjourned amid claims that witnesses were being intimidated on Winnie Mandela's orders.[11]

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 Mandela 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.[12] However, Mufamadi denied the allegations in the documentary, stating that Helsinga's statements were false.[13][14] The documentary had been described in a review by Vanity Fair as "unabashedly one-sided" and "overwhelmingly defensive".[15] Commentator Max du Preez called the decision by television station eNCA to broadcast the documentary without context in the week prior to Madikizela-Mandela's funeral a "serious mistake", and he described the film as making "outrageous claims",[16] while former TRC commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza questioned the motives of the documentary maker.[17]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Fall of Winnie Mandela Began Nearly 2 Years Ago; Erratic Behavior Preceded Recent Violence". The Washington Post. 18 February 1989. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  • Gilbey, Emma (1994). The Lady. The life and times of Winnie Mandela. London: Vintage. ISBN 0-09-938801-4.
  • Obituary: "Winnie Mandela". The Economist, page 78, April 7, 2018.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Tutu, Desmond; Mkhize, Hlengiwe; Boraine, Alex; Ntsebeza, Dumisa; Burton, Mary; et al. (29 October 1998). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report (PDF) (Report). Vol. 2. South Africa: Truth and Reconciliation Commission. pp. 555–582. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b Wren, Christopher S. (16 February 1989). "In Storm Over Winnie Mandela, Body Is Identified as Soweto Boy's". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Brigland, Fred (1997). Katiza's journey. Beneath the surface of South Africa's shame. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0333727371.
  4. ^ "1991: Mandela's wife jailed for kidnaps". BBC. 14 May 1991.
  5. ^ a b "Winnie may face fresh murder charge". The Independent. 28 November 1997. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022.
  6. ^ "Winnie says evidence against her is 'ludicrous'". BBC. 4 December 1997.
  7. ^ "Alive, well - and still determined to nail Winnie". The Independent. 7 December 1997. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  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. ^ "Panel Hears Evidence Winnie Mandela Sought Doctor's Death". The New York Times. 2 December 1997.
  11. ^ "Winnie hearing adjourned after intimidation claims". BBC. 1 December 1997.
  12. ^ "Why Winnie Mandela could not be forgiven". 4 April 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  13. ^ "#SydneyMufamadi denies allegations in #Winnie documentary". IOL News.
  14. ^ "AS IT HAPPENED: Investigations into Winnie Mandela 'took place at behest of Tony Leon' - Mufamadi". News24.
  15. ^ Lodge, Guy (30 January 2017). "Sundance Film Review: 'Winnie'". Variety.
  16. ^ "Winnie's death captured by populist politics". News24.
  17. ^ "Dumisa Ntsebeza accuses Winnie documentary maker of having 'no regard for our people'". News24.