Monday, November 24, 1997 Published at 14:29 GMT
A week of hearings by the Truth Commission into allegations of murder,
kidnapping and assault by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of
President Nelson Mandela, has opened in Johannesburg. Richard Downes reports
from the hearings.
If Winnie Mandela expected a gentle start to this week of hearings, she was
proved wrong almost immediately. The first witness accused her of being
implicated in two murders. Soon after, a women, Maggie Dlamini, said Mrs
Mandela and her bodyguards had badly beaten her when she was pregnant, causing the retardation of her young son. In both cases the witnesses said Winnie acted in a jealous rage. Both witnesses were accused of lying by Mrs Mandela's lawyers; both denied the allegation. Mrs Mandela will face around 40 such witnesses. Some of them, like Albertina Sisulu, are highly respected members of
the community whose testimony it will not be easy to disregard. As the most
controversial politician in South Africa, Winnie Mandela is fighting for her
political life. The outcome of this week's hearings will largely determine
whether she has a chance of standing for the deputy presidency of the ruling
African National Congress.