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1991: Mandela's wife jailed for kidnaps

VIDEO : Report on the Winnie Mandela trial

Winnie Mandela, the wife of anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela, has been given a six-year prison sentence for her part in the kidnap of four youths.

Her lawyers lodged an appeal against the sentence and Mrs Mandela was freed on bail.

The woman known to her supporters as the "Mother of Africa" was found guilty yesterday.

Passing sentence the judge, Mr Justice Stegmann, called her an "unblushing and unprincipled liar".

He said it was impossible to imagine the kidnaps taking place without Mrs Mandela being a "moving force".

Mrs Mandela's housekeeper and driver were also found guilty of taking part in the kidnapping of the four youths who were suspected of being police informers.

One of the four - 14-year-old Stompie Moeketsi - later died of his injuries.

Earlier this year Winnie Mandela's chief bodyguard, Jerry Richardson, was sentenced to death for the boy's murder.

Fall from grace

Nelson Mandela, 73, has so far vigorously supported his wife's claims of innocence.

But Mrs Mandela's attempt to distance herself from the activities of her bodyguards - known as the "Mandela Football Club" - appear to have failed.

The sentence compounds the fall from grace for the woman who for more than three decades was the figurehead of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

She and her husband spent only four months as a married couple before he was sent to prison where he would spend the next 27 years.

She was harassed by the authorities and sent into internal exile.

In 1985 she returned to Soweto in defiance of the banning order in place against her.

However, her critics said she encouraged violence in the township including the notorious "necklace killings" - putting a tryre around a victim's neck and setting it alight.

By the time her husband was released from jail last year Winnie Mandela was deeply unpopular.

In Context
The following year police began investigations into claims Winnie Mandela had been involved in two other murders.

Soon afterwards Nelson Mandela announced he and Winnie were separating after 33 years of marriage.

The couple divorced in 1996.

In June 1993 South Africa's Appeal Court reduced Mrs Mandela's sentence to a fine of 15,000 rand (3,200) and a suspended two-year prison sentence.

She was also ordered to pay another 15,000 rand to the three surviving kidnapped youths.

The death sentence on Mrs Mandela's bodyguard for Stompie Moeketsi's murder was commuted to 19 years imprisonment.

Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. He appointed Winnie to his cabinet but sacked her the following year.

Claims of involvement in kidnaps, murders and other crimes during the apartheid era have continued to haunt Winnie Mandela.

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