Second man claims Winnie Mandela offered him money to murder doctor

 

A second man convicted of murdering a popular Sowetobased doctor yesterday told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) he had been offered R20,000 by African National Congress leader Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to kill Dr Abu-Baker Asvat.

Thulani Dlamini, who was convicted with Cyril Mbatha in October 1989 of the murder of Dr Asvat in January of that year, was testifying on the seventh day of the TRC hearing into allegations implicating Ms Madikizela-Mandela in serious crimes, including murder.

He repeated the accusation made by Mr Mbatha on Monday that they had been hired to kill Dr Asvat. According to disputed reports, he incurred the wrath of Ms Madikizela-Mandela when he refused to confirm that one of the young men who had been living at the Methodist manse in Soweto had been sodomised by the clergyman in charge there.

Ms Madikizela, who was convicted in 1991 for her role in kidnapping a teenage boy and three young men from the manse, insisted at the time that the four had gone voluntarily to her house in Soweto to escape sexual harassment.

In his response to Mr Dlamini's allegation yesterday, Ms Madikizela-Mandela's lawyer rejected it as a lie. Though approaching the issue from a different angle, the TRC legal adviser, Mr Hanif Vally, took an equally hard line.

Mr Dlamini is seeking amnesty for his role in the killing, which means he has to prove his crime was politically motivated.

Those who believe Ms Madikizela-Mandela had a hand in the murder of Dr Asvat had hoped Mrs Albertina Sisulu would provide a vital link by confirming that the controversial ANC leader brought one of the young men from the manse to the surgery on December 30th, 1988.

But Mrs Sisulu, an ANC veteran who worked as a nurse and receptionist in the surgery, was unable to confirm that the handwriting on a medical card recording the visit was hers.

Dr Asvat was not an ANC member. He headed the health secretariat of the rival Azanian People's Organisation, or Azapo. In a statement issued yesterday, Azapo implicitly accused Mrs Sisulu of lying.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela faces her ultimate test today when she defends herself against allegations linking her to vicious murders, kidnappings and assaults.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela, who has been accused of at least 18 human rights abuses, including eight murders, will answer questions at a public hearing this afternoon, officials said.

Her lawyer, Mr Ishmael Semenya, has so far countered the charges by arguing that her alleged victims are unreliable witnesses, many with serious criminal convictions of their own.

Some of the most serious murder claims against Ms Madikizela-Mandela (63) have been weakened by testimony riddled with contradictions.

The commission's deputy chairman, Mr Alex Boraine, has voiced concerns at the lack of openness by witnesses testifying to abuses by her supporters in the Mandela United Football Club. "We've been very disappointed by all the fudging and half lies instead of clear answers," he said.

The truth commission is to issue a final report on the allegations against Ms Madikizela-Mandela after the hearings, which are expected to finish tomorrow.