Winnie Mandela testifies for S.Africa's youth leader

26th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, testified Wednesday on behalf of the embattled youth leader of the ruling African National Congress as his disciplinary hearing wrapped up.

Madikizela-Mandela, an influential political figure, was the last witness to testify at the closed-door hearings for Julius Malema, said Derek Hanekom, the head of the committee probing the fiery and controversial youth leader's conduct.

"We have made great strides but there is so much that needs to be done and the youth must be allowed to be vocal," Madikizela-Mandela told reporters as she left the hearing.

During the hearings, she said she spoke about the role of the ANC Youth League dating back to the 1950s, when Mandela was president of the group.

She has frequently and publicly defended Malema, who is accused of bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing divisions in the party by calling for "regime change" in democratic Botswana.

Madikizela-Mandela earlier this month told Malema that she wants him to liberate South Africa, saying: "Come to me and I will show you how."

The final day of the hearings was held at FNB Stadium, which was the venue of the 2010 football World Cup final in Johannesburg.

Malema's hearing has dragged on for over a month and has been held in a succession of venues, after his supporters clashed with police outside the ANC headquarters in downtown Johannesburg when the hearing opened in late August.

Madikizela-Mandela was married to ex-president Mandela from 1957 to 1996, though they had officially separated four years earlier. She had tirelessly campaigned for his release during his 27-year imprisonment under apartheid.

Her image was tarnished by a series of scandals, including her links to the kidnap and murder of a young activist and a 2003 fraud conviction.

She remains an MP and a member of the ANC's national executive committee.

© 2011 AFP

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