The headlines about the death of Winnie Mandela today are unbelievable.
The Wall Street Journal: "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Antiapartheid Campaigner and Former Wife of Nelson Mandela, Dies at 81. NBC News: "South African anti-apartheid stalwart Winnie Mandela dies at 81." BBC: "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Anti-apartheid campaigner dies at 81." NY Daily News: "Activist and politician Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dies at 81." LA Times: "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, anti-apartheid activist and 'Mother of the Nation,' dies at 81."
It goes on and on and on. They conveniently forget who this woman is.
In 1986, with her then-husband still in jail, she would endorse violent methods to achieve freedom for black South Africans. One quote said, “We have no guns — we have only stones, boxes of matches and petrol.” She said that at a rally in Soweto. “Together, hand in hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country.”
What did she mean by the necklace comment? According to ABC news, "Necklacing" was a method of torture and murder used on police informants, where a tire filled with gasoline was forced around a person's arms and set on fire.
Also according to ABC, in 1997, Winnie Mandela's bodyguard from the 1980s, Jerry Richardson, told South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee that he beat, tortured, and killed people whenever she told him to. His boss sometimes participated in the beatings, Richardson said. Winnie Mandela later apologized to the families of two of the victims.
In 2003, she was sentenced to four years in prison on dozens of counts of theft and bank fraud. A judge ruled that she profited from loans to poor people who could not get them without a letter from her.
This is the person they are praising? And at a time where white farmers are being brutally tortured and killed and having their land taken away, all completely sanctioned by the government? The legacy of trading out one violent form of racial oppression and replacing it with another is nothing to be celebrated. As the people she set on fire.
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