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Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 15:36 GMT

Winnie Mandela: Fallen political heir

[ image:  ]
Winnie Mandela was born in 1934 at Bizana, Pondoland, in the Transkei.

She met Nelson Mandela in 1957 and they married in the following year despite her father's objections that he was too committed to politics and too old for her.

In their early married life the police cracked down on the ANC and there were long periods when Nelson was either in hiding or in prison awaiting trial. Eventually, he was jailed for life in 1964.

From then, Winnie assumed the mantle of Nelson Mandela's political heir, eventually becoming known as 'Mother of the Nation'.

In 1969 she was imprisoned in solitary confinement for 17 months - the first of a number of spells in jail on minor charges.

[ image: Leading the struggle]
Leading the struggle
After being banished from Soweto in 1976, she became well known in the West and was promoted by the ANC as a symbol of its struggle against apartheid.

In subsequent years, the activities of her personal bodyguards, nicknamed the Mandela United Football Club, made her a figure of controversy. Reports of their brutality were commonplace in Soweto.

In 1989, 14-year-old activist, Stompei Seipei Moketsi, was kidnapped by her guards and later found murdered. The ANC leadership declared that she was out of control but Nelson Mandela, in jail and in ill-health, refused to repudiate her.

In 1991 Winnie Mandela was charged with the assault and kidnapping of Stompei. Initially convicted and given six years in jail, she appealed and had the sentence reduced to a fine.

[ image: By her husband's side]
By her husband's side
After Mr Mandela's release in 1990, relations between the couple gradually cooled and they divorced in 1996 on the grounds of her adultery.

While unwelcome among the top ranks of the ANC, Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, as she then became known, retained a huge following among the rank and file.

She has lost and regained positions of responsibility in the ANC Women's League and executive committee, and polled well in the 1994 elections.

In 1997, she appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, where she had to defend herself against allegations of murder and assault.

Weeks later, Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela abandoned plans to run for the deputy presidency of the ANC.

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