Winnie Mandela Investigated for 1988 Disappearances

Nelson Mandela's former spouse is back in hot water.

Posted: 12/20/2012 01:11 PM EST
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Prosecutors in South Africa are reopening an apartheid-era investigation into the 1988 disappearance of two men last seen in the company of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Officials say the 24-year-old case was reopened due to new information that surfaced about the missing men, Lolo Sono and Siboniso Shabalala.

"The investigations into this case are still ongoing and possible burial sites are still being examined on the basis of recently obtained information," spokesman Makhosini Nkosi told reporters. "No exact burial sites have yet been confirmed or excavated."

Both men were linked to Madikizela-Mandela back when she ran the infamous Mandela United Football Club in Soweto. The group allegedly served as bodyguards for Madikizela-Mandela and were accused of committing 18 murders and other crimes.  

DNA samples from Shabalala and Sono's family members have been collected by the National Prosecuting Authority's missing persons task team, which is specifically charged with investigating disappearances from the apartheid era.

Madikizela-Mandela was sentenced to six years in jail for the kidnapping and assault of four young men in 1991. Although on appeal Madikizela-Mandela was ordered only to pay a $3,200 fine, her image was tarnished by the scandal.

Sono and Shabalala’s case was last examined when Madikizela-Mandela testified before South Africa's post-apartheid truth and reconciliation commission in 1997. Sono’s father claims that before his son disappeared, Madikizela-Mandela told him his son was a spy who needed to be dealt with.

Madikizela-Mandela married Nelson Mandela in 1958 and the couple spent 27 years apart while Mandela was imprisoned by the South African government. The two divorced in 1997. Madikizela-Mandela is currently a member of the African National Congress’ national executive committee.


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(Photo: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

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