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Tuesday, November 25, 1997 Published at 11:32 GMT

image: [ BBC Correspondent: Richard Downes ]Richard Downes
South Africa

The second day of hearings on the role of Mrs Winnie Madikizela Mandela in crimes committed during the apartheid years has opened in South Africa. The Truth Commission is probing her alleged involvement in more than twenty cases of death, assault and abduction dating from the 1980s. Richard Downes is at the hearings:

The second day of hearings will concentrate on the well-known case of the death of Stompie Muketsi Sepei, the young township activist who was killed in 1989.

Mrs Mandela has already been convicted of kidnapping the fourteen-year-old, and will face new allegations at the commission.

The most sensational witness is expected to be Katiza Cebekhulu, a close associate of Winnie Mandela in the late 1980s. In a book and film last month, Mr Cebekhulu claimed that he saw Mrs Mandela assault the young Stompie Muketsi, plunging what looked like a pair of scissors into him.

Mr Cebekhulu is being sheltered by the former British member of parliament, Emma Nicholson, who says he is in danger by returning to South Africa. She has been subpoenaed to appear along with Mr Cebekhulu, who arrived at the hearings venue amid tight and heavily armed security.

Mrs Mandela has laid charges of defamation against him and two others believed to be Miss Nicholson and the journalist who helped write the book in which the allegations are made.

Mr Cebekhulu's credibility has been challenged by many people in South Africa, who point out that he is a fugitive from justice, having absconded while awaiting trial in 1991.

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