'Winnie gave order to kill our brother'

Siboniso Shabalala’s family believes he was killed on orders from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The family of Siboniso Shabalala says it believes he was killed by the captain of the Mandela United FC on orders from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - The family of Siboniso Shabalala says it believes he was killed by the captain of the Mandela United FC - on orders from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The remains of two men were exhumed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) last week. NPA officials believe the bones are of those of Shabalala and his friend Lolo Sono.

The pair, who were both involved with the ANC's armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe, have been missing for 24 years.

They were last seen at Madikizela-Mandela's house and appeared to have been severely beaten.

Shabalala's family said they received a letter from Mandela United FC captain Jerry Richardson a number of years ago in which he confessed to the murders, saying he was instructed to kill the men by Nelson Mandela's former wife.

Testimony by another member of the football club at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1997 describes Madikizela-Mandela beating Sono with a sjambok, accusing him of being a spy.

Speaking to Eyewitness News , Shabalala's sister, Sebenzile, said they believe Richardson's story.

"Richardson was close to Winnie, he was Winnie's right-hand man.

"Richardson wouldn't lie. I mean how can I lie about my boss?"

But Shabalala's brother Curtis said they felt helpless.

"When there's Winnie inside, you can't fight. You look in your background first and you must be on the safe side always."

Curtis said they will await the outcome of the investigation but hope justice will be done.

"The law will take its course. You can't kill someone else's child and the act leaves you like that. No one is above the law," he added.

Once the face of South African resistance to white minority rule, Madikizela-Mandela fell from grace in the 1980s as she became more militant in her fight against apartheid and increasingly paranoid about activists turning traitor.

The TRC found that Madikizela-Mandela and her former security detail, known as the Mandela United Football Club, had killed 18 people in Soweto.

Madikizela-Mandela has not been available for comment.

(Additional reporting by Reuters)