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Monday, 24 November, 1997, 00:09 GMT
Winnie Mandela defended by white former agents

Claims by the former wife of the South African president, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, that she was the victim of a smear campaign by the apartheid authorities have received support from two former government agents.One of them, Paul Erasmus, told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Johannesburg that he'd been in charge of a scheme to paint Mrs Mandela as an alcoholic and drug-user.

The disclosures followed four days of testimony detailing accusations of murder and assault against Mrs Mandela.

She denies the allegations.

In another development, the Commission granted amnesty to forty-three people for crimes committed during the anti-apartheid struggle.

They included the deputy president, Thabo Mbeki, and five cabinet ministers who took collective responsibility for acts carried out by ANC activists.

The Commission said they had fulfilled the conditions required by disclosing the whole truth and proving a political motive for their actions.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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