Church Supports Winnie (Madikizela-Mandela): Mandela's Ex-Wife Apologizes

Article excerpt

ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONAL

East London, South Africa

South African president Nelson Mandela's former wife, who last month heard a barrage of evidence allegedly linking her to murder, torture and abduction has received unexpected support from Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was assured of the "pastoral support of the Anglican church and of the prayers" of Archbishop Ndungane in a letter delivered to her early last month at the Johannesburg hearings of the state-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission is investigating human rights violations committed during the apartheid era both by the former apartheid regime and by anti-apartheid liberation movements.

In testimony to the commission, a number of Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela's former political comrades and friends have alleged that she and her bodyguards were implicated in kidnapping, torturing and murdering young anti-apartheid activists in the 1980s.

Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela categorically denied ordering the murder of the young activists.

She blamed the allegations against her on a campaign to discredit her by the apartheid government's strategic management committee and on the international media.

But at the end of the nine-day inquiry into her actions, and at the urging of commission chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela delivered an enigmatic apology. She conceded that her role in the struggle against apartheid had somehow gone wrong.

"I am saying it is true, things went horribly wrong. I fully agree with that. For that part of those painful years when things went horribly wrong and we were aware of the fact . …