Winnie disobeyed orders from ANC leadership to disband football club: Mbeki

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela disobeyed orders from the ANC leadership to disband the Mandela United Football Club.

That is what former president Thabo Mbeki said on Tuesday evening in an interview with the SABC.

“Oliver Tambo intervened on this matter to try to say to her this thing is wrong. Let’s not. Let’s move away from this thing. It didn’t work until you had the intervention here.”

The Mandela Crisis Committee was formed in January 1989 to persuade Madikizela-Mandela to release four boys abducted by her bodyguards‚ known as the Mandela United Football Club‚ from the house of Methodist minister Paul Verryn in December 1988.

Madikizela-Mandela was convicted in 1991 of kidnapping and being an accessory in the assault of Stompie Seipei‚ one of the boys who were kidnapped. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a suspended two-year sentence on appeal. Tambo and Mbeki were in Lusaka in Zambia at the time.

Mbeki said: “He (Tambo) tried very hard to say to her that this behaviour is not right‚ but didn’t respond until later.”

Mbeki said Madikizela-Mandela should be remembered as one individual in the collective that had fought against apartheid.

“We need to find a way. Yes‚ indeed‚ recognise individuals‚ but let’s also recognise that these are not people that worked as individuals. These are people that worked in a collective.”

Mbeki compared her with Albertina Sisulu‚ wife of Walter Sisulu.

“It was correct of of the ANC to say‚ let’s mark the centenary of the birth of Albertina Sisulu. I don’t think Ma Sisulu got the same media exposure as Winnie did‚ but you can’t say that she has played a lesser role.”

Mbeki said Madikizela-Mandela was wrong when she said on April 13‚ 1986‚ during a speech in Munsieville: “Together‚ hand in hand‚ with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.”

Mbeki said: “That was wrong. Already at that time‚ Oliver Tambo had already said we must stop this thing of necklacing people. It was in fact a tactic that was used by the regime against us. That’s where it came from.”

Madikizela-Mandela died on Monday at the age of 81 at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg after a long illness for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones‚ the family said in an official statement.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ a stalwart in the fight against apartheid‚ died on Monday April 2 2018 in Johannesburg at the age of 81 following a “long illness”, her family said.

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