Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of South Africa's former leader Nelson Mandela – and long known for her open advocacy of torturing rivals, as well as for her 1991 conviction for being an accessory to the brutal murder of a 14-year-old boy – wants to travel to Iraq to become a "human shield" so she can protect Iraqi children from American attacks, according to the South African Press Association.
Advertisement - story continues below
A member of parliament in the African National Congress, the controversial figure was known during the waning days of the apartheid era for her enthusiastic and public support of "necklacing" blacks suspected of "collaborating" with the white government.
"Necklacing," typically carried out by members and supporters of the African National Congress, consisted of binding a black adversary hand and foot, draping gasoline-filled tires around legs, midriff, and neck, and setting the victim ablaze. Often, children were forced to witness their parents' agonizing deaths.
Although she would later deny it, videotape of Mandela at a large, April 1986 outdoor rally in Soweto shows Winnie Mandela proclaiming to a large crowd: "We have no arms. But we have stones. We have our boxes of matches. We have our bottles. … With our necklaces, we will liberate this country!"
Moreover, Winnie Mandela was found to be complicit in the brutal killing of a 14-year-old boy named "Stompie" Seipei. According to The New York Times, three survivors of the ordeal testified in court that Winnie initiated the beatings of several youths, hitting young Stompie with a stiff rawhide whip called a sjambok, and urging others to hit him. His battered body was found later, his throat cut. Jerry Richardson, one of Winnie Mandela's bodyguards, was convicted in May 1990 of murder, attempted murder and kidnapping. According to a Newsday report, Justice Brian O'Donovan "implicitly found her to be an accomplice. … The evidence, O'Donovan pointedly told the court, had the 'ring of truth.'"
Nelson Mandela – today revered by many in the West as a great reformer and man of peace – was in fact the head and co-founder of the ANC's military wing, and was imprisoned for spearheading the effort to commit widespread terrorism in South Africa. Although Mandela was almost always referred to as a "political prisoner," Amnesty International declared in 1985 that "Mandela had participated in planning acts of sabotage and inciting violence, so that he could no longer fulfill the criteria for the classification of political prisoners."
Upon his release from prison in 1990, Mandela publicly paid tribute to Joe Slovo, leader of the South African Communist Party. "I salute the South African Communist Party for its steady contribution to the struggle for democracy," Mandela said at the time. Later elected as the nation's prime minister, Mandela praised Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gadhafi for their "love for human rights and liberty." He recently ridiculed President George W. Bush publicly for his commitment to military intervention in Iraq.
Advertisement - story continues below
Winnie, whose last name today is Madikizela-Mandela, wants other South African women to join her in going to Iraq.
In a press statement issued yesterday, an aide explained: "She wants to involve women from across all parties and interested groups, on a mother-to-mother basis. Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela believes we have the experience in South Africa of having seen our children needlessly killed."
Saying she would defend herself next week in court against charges of theft and corruption, Madikizela-Mandela added, trying to justify her chronic absenteeism from Parliament, that it was very difficult to "share the chamber with politicians from the apartheid era who have the blood of black children on their hands."