Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2002-07-09 Reporter: Editor:

Struggle Heroes Fall from Grace


Publication  The Star
Date 2002-07-09
Reporter Rapule Tabane
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In their prime, they were royalty within the ANC.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was not only mother of the nation but she was also a king-maker. Tony Yengeni, the crown prince, was the powerful chief whip of the ruling party.

But these flamboyant characters have now fallen from grace - left out in the cold while other national leaders were being warmly feted at the historic launch of the African Union.

The two militants, who were known for their lavish lifestyles, are defending themselves against criminal charges in separate courts in Pretoria - Madikizela-Mandela accused of fraud and theft, and Yengeni facing corruption or fraud charges.

Madikizela-Mandela, president of the ANC Women's League, has pleaded not guilty to the charges connected with an alleged scam to obtain bank loans for nonexistent employees of the league.

Yengeni is charged with peddling his influence in the arms deal in return for a 47 percent discount on a luxury vehicle. Alternatively he is charged with fraud for failing to disclose the benefit to parliament.

Known for his expensive taste and lifestyle, Yengeni has been relieved of his duties as chief whip and no longer drives the Mercedes-Benz 4x4 that propelled him into the headlines.

Madikizela-Mandela, although still popular with the poor, has recently been shunned in ANC circles. Last year, at a rally to commemorate the Soweto uprising, she was spurned by President Thabo Mbeki.

She was convicted in 1991 for the kidnapping of 14-year-old Stompie Seipei, whose body was found near her home. Her six-year jail term was reduced to a fine on appeal.

With acknowledgements to Rapule Tabane and The Star.