Body take her to one of the celebrations,


Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela (Winnie) was born on
the 26th of September 1936 in a small town in the Transkei. She was
one of nine siblings, her father was history teacher at a local school and her
mother was a science teacher.  She was
only nine years old when she had first experienced discrimination as it was the
end of wwii and she had heard that celebrations were to be made. Winnie had
pleaded her dad to take her to one of the celebrations, but when she arrived
soon realized that thesecelebrations were for whites only. Winnie had many
other instances where she had seen apartheid first hand, however she could not
understand why the black people could not defend themselves or do anything
about it. Winnie had the privilege of attending a non-racial school as the
hated bantu education act only came into play in the early 1950s, thus she was
able to participate in her schooling career alongside her white peers. She had
achieved her standard 8, passing with a distinction. She then moved and matriculated
at a Methodist mission school called Shawsbury, in Qumbu. It was here in which
she learnt leadership skills and became politicized.

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In 1953, Winnie relocated to the Jan Hofmeyr School of
Social Work in Johannesburg, where she met Nelson Mandela who was a supporter. Winnie
was twenty two when she met Nelson, and he was sixteen years old. He was
already a famous anti-apartheid figure and one of the key offenders in the
Treason Trial, which had begun the year before, in 1956. From the start, Nelson
was concealed in the Liberation Struggle, and the limits of their romance were
set by his commitment to political change. 
On March 10 1957, Nelson asked Winnie to marry him and they celebrated
their engagment together in Johannesburg on 25 May 1958.

Their marriage was to prove both healthy and fraught.
Winnie quickly discovered that life married to one of Apartheid’s most famous
opponents was a lonely one. Her husband was nonstop busy with ANC meetings,
legal cases and the Treason Trial. The Mandela residence was also a site for
frequent police raids, during which policemen would awaken the household with
loud banging on the doors in the early morning and set to turning the whole
house upside down. Added to the unrest of their early married life, in July,
Winnie found out she was pregnant with her first child.

In October 1958, Winnie took part in a mass action which
prepared women to protest against the Apartheid government’s infamous pass
laws. This protest in Johannesburg followed a similar action that had taken place
in Pretoria in August 1956. The Johannesburg protest was controlled by the
president of the ANC Women’s League, Lilian Ngoyi and Albertina Sisulu, amongst
others. The protest occurred in the city centre. During the protest, the police
arrested 1000 women.


On March 30 1961, nine days after the police murdered
sixty-nine people during a Pan African Congress (PAC) anti-pass demonstration
at Sharpeville, a police raid on the Mandela home saw Nelson arrested and
Winnie left by herself, in what would become her overarching experience of
marriage. Winnie had a few influential presences in her life, amongst them were
Lillian Ngoyi, who, along with Helen Joseph, were the only two women accused in
the Treason Trial; Albertina Sisulu; Florence Matomela; Frances Baard; Kate
Molale; Ruth Mompati; Hilda Bernstein (who was the first Communist Party member
to serve on the Johannesburg Council in the 1940s); and Ruth First. These were
people who Winnie was able to consider not only as sources of inspiration, but
as trusted confidantes. This is significant, because as Winnie’s struggle
against government continued, her inner circle became consistently infiltrated
by people who would gain her trust as allies, only to reveal themselves later
as spies. As Nelson spent increasing amounts of time in police custody or
underground, the number of unsettling relationships Winnie established with
people who would turn out to be police informers also seemed to increase. As
Bezdrob has written about Johannesburg at the time, it was “a cesspool of
informers” and unfortunately for Winnie, she appeared to be surrounded by spies.

After this, Winnie had appeared in many trails and became
very well known. The most important and interesting point in history was what
happened to Stompei Seipei, a fourteen-year-old activist, in 1988. At the TRC
hearing, the extent of clearness surrounding his death amounted to the
following: that he went missing from his home, was beaten and ultimately
murdered with a pair of gardening shears. During the TRC it emerged that
Stompie, along with three other missing boys, Gabriel Mekgwe, Thabiso Mono and
Kenneth Kgase, was in the company of MUFC (Mandela United Football Club)
members prior to his disappearance and murder. Stompie’s body was discovered on
the outskirts of Soweto on January 4. Evidently, he had undergone a severe
beating prior to his murder and Winnie’s old friend, Dr Abu-Baker Asvat had
seen him for the injuries he sustained. Dr Asvat reported that Stompie was
vomiting and could not eat and declared that he had suffered permanent
brain-damage. On January 7, one of the other boys who had been with Stompie at
Winnie’s home in Soweto, Kenneth Kgase, escaped and contacted Father Paul
Verryn, a Christian priest whom Winnie alleged was guilty of abusing children in
his care. Verryn took Kgase to a doctor and then to his friend Geoff Budlender,
a lawyer, where Kgase described abductions and assaults perpetrated by MUFC.

On 27 January, Dr Asvat himself was murdered by two young
men posing as patients. Cyril Mbatha and Nicholas Dlamini were subequently
convicted of his murder. By February 12, the murders of Stompie and Dr Asvat,
along with rumors concerning MUFC, came to the attention of The Sunday Star.
They broke the news nationally that Winnie may have been involved in Stompie’s
beating and death. However, as a current of popular opinion looked as though it
were quickly turning against Winnie, her name would quickly be deleted off the
newspapers front pages, for the nation’s political forces were combining to
free the world’s most famous prisoner, Nelson Mandela.


During this time, Winnie and her accessories in the MUFC
were also standing trial for Stompie’s murder. Winnie was cleared of the murder
itself but sentenced to five years in prison on four counts of kidnapping and
one year as an accessory to assault. In the event she was granted leave to
appeal and her bail was extended, with the courts eventually ordering her to
serve a two year suspended sentence and pay a fine of R15 000. However, the accusations,
the trial and the liking for debate were all taking their toll on the Mandelas,
and the image of the happy couple was fading fast.

By the time the TRC was established in February 1996,
Winnie had enough accusations made against her to warrant an appearance at an in
camera hearing of the Human Rights Violations Committee. Winnie appeared before
the TRC in 1997, which judged her to have been implicated in a number of
assaults and murders carried out by the MUFC. At the end of Winnie’s own
testimony, the chaiman of the committee, Archbishop Desmond Tutu begged her to
admit that whatever her intentions might have been in Soweto in the late 1980s,
that “things went wrong.” Winnie responded that indeed “things went horribly
wrong” and she apologised to the families of Stompie Seipei and Dr Abu-Baker