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Wednesday, January 28, 1998 Published at 13:00 GMT


Apartheid police considered Winnie 'untouchable'

Superintendent Andre Kritzinger: "I'm convinced there were grounds for a prosecution"

Criminal charges could have been brought against Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the late 1980s but police regarded her as "untouchable," a former superintendent told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

On the first day of the newly resumed hearings against Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, the commission heard yet more damning evidence against the former wife of President Nelson Mandela.

In nine days of testimony in November, the woman famed as "Mother of the Nation" heard witness after witness accuse her of complicity in the murder of Stompie Seikei and having ordering brutal punishment beatings.

Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, 63, was not in the court when the hearing resumed on Wednesday and the accusations of police chiefs were added to those of her own past supporters.

[ image: Joyce Seipei, mother of Stompie, at the hearing on Wednesday]
Joyce Seipei, mother of Stompie, at the hearing on Wednesday
Superintendent Andre Kritzinger said police at the end of the apartheid regime had compiled a list of 30 crimes they believed Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was involved in.

"I'm convinced there were sufficient grounds for a successful prosecution in a court of law ... on the charge of high treason and many other charges," Mr Kritzinger said.

But he said South Africa's then attorney general refused to prosecute her, even on the most serious charge of treason.

"The fact that she was untouchable was my view," he told Archbishop Desmond Tutu who leads the commission.

"Experience has taught that if I had to go to Mrs Mandela's house to interrogate her or to take a statement, I can guarantee you she would have shown me the door," he said.

"She was not a person just to be approached. She was a person in a totally different category."

Mr Kritzinger, who was a member of the security police in the Soweto black township, refuted other witnesses' claims that Mrs Madikizela-Mandela had been a police informant.

[ image: Eugene de Kock will testify]
Eugene de Kock will testify
"I deny this categorically," he said. "I cannot believe it to be true."

The commission is scheduled to hear testimony from a dozen other police bosses from the apartheid era.

Among them is Eugene de Kock who was sentenced last year to 212 years in jail for a total of 89 crimes

Archbishop Tutu also announced the commission would not be able to meet its June deadline because it has been overwhelmed by applications for amnesty.

He suggested either the commission's time period should be extended or another body should replace it.

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