Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's most famous speech, in which she said anti-apartheid activists would use the gruesome "necklace" method of killing to liberate South Africa, was in effect a call to kill police collaborators in black townships, one of her former colleagues said Friday.

Murphy Morobe, a top black activist in the 1980s, said under questioning before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the 1986 call by President Nelson Mandela's ex-wife was likely interpreted by township activists to use violence against perceived informers.

"In a sense, in that environment, that interpretation is one of the most probable ones," Morobe said.

In her speech, Madikizela-Mandela said "with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we will liberate this country." She referred to the method of killing in which victims had a tire placed around their neck, were doused with gasoline and set on fire.

Stompie Seipei, a 14-year-old activist accused of being an informer, was killed after being abducted by Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguards and beaten at her house in late 1988.

The chief bodyguard, Jerry Richardson, was convicted of killing Seipei and is serving a life prison sentence. Tony Richard, a lawyer representing Richardson before the Truth Commission, asked Morobe about the 1986 speech in an effort to show that killing informers was sanctioned by Madikizela-Mandela.

A series of witnesses have detailed killings, beatings, torture and other atrocities allegedly committed by Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguards, known as the Mandela United Football Club, in the late 1980s in the Soweto black township.

The commission is investigating 18 human rights abuses allegedly linked to the bodyguards and Madikizela-Mandela, 63, who was divorced last year and took back her maiden name, Madikizela, with her married name.

While the commission lacks the power to press criminal charges, it can pass on evidence to police for an investigation.

Madikizela-Mandela has always denied any guilt for the longstanding accusations against her. Dressed in a black-and-white outfit with three strands of pearls and gold jewelry, she showed little emotion on Friday, the fifth day of the hearing, as lawyers cross-examined Morobe and another longtime activist, Azar Cachalia.

Cachalia, now a top official in the Safety and Security Ministry, on Thursday made the strongest statement to date by any former colleague of Madikizela-Mandela, accusing her of sanctioning and even participating human rights abuses.

He was a member of an anti-apartheid movement that publicly distanced itself from Madikizela-Mandela in 1989, after Seipei's death and other crimes blamed on the bodyguard unit.

Cachalia received a loud ovation Thursday when he called for anyone convicted of gross human rights abuses to be barred from public office. Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault in 1991 in the case involving Seipei and three other young men. Initially sentenced to six years in jail, she eventually paid a dlrs 3,200 fine on appeal.

On Friday, Cachalia said he wasn't referring specifically to Madikizela-Mandela in his call the day before. He also agreed the South African Constitution, which bans people who have been sentenced to prison for 12 months or more for a human rights abuse from holding public office, covered the matter.

Madikizela-Mandela is running for deputy president of the governing African National Congress next month and if successful, could become deputy president of the country after the next national election in 1999. Because her prison sentence was wiped out on appeal, she would avoid the constitutional ban.

The testimony of Cachalia and Morobe showed the split that developed in the anti-apartheid movement over Madikizela-Mandela and her bodyguards. The mainstream ANC leadership, including Mandela, opposes her bid for the party leadership post.

Mandela was in prison when the Seipei murder and other crimes occurred. He was released in 1990, and the couple separated in 1992 and divorced last year.

The British Broadcasting Co. reported Thursday that convicted killer Cyril Mbatha will testify that Madikizela-Mandela handed him and other a gun to carry out the January 1989 murder of Dr. Abu Asvat.

Mabatha said in the interview from a South African prison that she wanted Asvat killed because the doctor refused to provide false medical records that would help her avoid suspicion in the death of Seipei.

The interview repeated allegations made in September by Thulani Dlamini, the other man convicted in the Asvat killing, that Madikizela-Mandela was behind the killing.

South African Press Association, 1997
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