Gunning for Winnie.

Author:Commey, Pusch
Position:Cover Story: South Africa - Cover Story

Winnie Madikizela Mandela has been hurled before court again. This time, where apartheid failed, the democratic order might just succeed in silencing the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela and a remarkably courageous woman who contributed in no small measure to the demise of apartheid. Pusch Commey reports from Durban.

It was again a fighting Winnie who took the stand in answer to 60 charges of fraud and 25 of theft involving 942,360 rand levelled against her and a co-accused, Andy Moolman, a broker. It is alleged that letters on the official letterhead of the ANG Women's League, bearing Winnie's signature, were fraudulently used to obtain loans from the now bankrupt Saambou Bank in the name of bogus employees, which included her daughter, Zindzi Mandela.

On the charge of theft, it is alleged that R360.O0 was deducted from each loan applicants' accounts for a funeral policy that did not exist. Addy Moolman is alleged to have administered the loan applications.

State witness Maditaba Raphahia, a widowed nurse and mother of four children, told the court that she heard of the loan scheme through a pamphlet distributed at the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto where she was employed. Applications were to be made at the ANC headquarters. There she met Moolman in September 2000 and signed a blank application form under his guidance.

When she enquired why she was required to sign a blank document, she said she was told it was because she needed the money. Her application was completed later, and she was listed as a clerk for the ANC Women's League when in fact she had been working at the Baragwanath Hospital for the past 20 years. She said she was unaware of a letter purporting that she was in the employ of the League.

She subsequently received a loan of R15,000 of which R360.00 was deducted from her account to pay for a funeral plan which was non-existent. Altogether, 60 applicants benefited from die scheme, including Winnie's own daughter, Zindzi, who received R20,000.

Under South African law, fraud is committed if one makes a misrepresentation that causes prejudice. That prejudice could be potential or actual. In addition, the State would have to prove that the person who made the misrepresentation had the intention to defraud. It does not matter whether the alleged fraudster benefited from the misrepresentation. Intention is inferred from conduct.

On a charge of theft, there must be an unlawful handling or taking of somebody's valuable or valuables with...

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