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Defiant Winnie Mandela Arrested Again in S. Africa

December 31, 1985|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Black nationalist leader Winnie Mandela was arrested again Monday for defying a South African government order barring her from Johannesburg and her home in Soweto, the black suburb.

Mandela, 49, wife of imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, was stopped by security police as her car entered the city limits of Johannesburg on her way from nearby Jan Smuts Airport after her return from Cape Town, where she had been visiting her husband.

She was pulled from the car and, after tussling for several minutes with the dozen policemen sent to arrest her, she was taken to Krugersdorp, northwest of Johannesburg. She was charged for the second time in nine days with violating the government order prohibiting her from entering Johannesburg.

"You do not have written permission to be in Johannesburg," a security policeman told her after six unmarked police cars surrounded the car carrying Mandela and members of her family and forced it off the road about two miles from downtown Johannesburg. "You are under arrest. I am sorry, but you must come with me."

But Mandela did not intend to go quietly and, as 40 reporters watched, she pushed and shoved, screamed and shouted.

After a policewoman tried to grab her grandson, Zondwa, 2, and then pushed him back, banging his head on the car door, Mandela grew angry and pushed away a policeman who tried to put her in his car.

"Don't touch me!" she said. "Don't touch me with those hands! I don't know you haven't got AIDS!"

The roadside scuffle ended with Mandela hugging her 23-year-old daughter, Zinzi, her three grandchildren and the driver, Aubrey Mokoena, who was acquitted recently of treason charges based on his political activities. Then she left for the Krugersdorp jail in a convoy of police cars, their sirens wailing.

She is scheduled to be arraigned before a magistrate here today, and the government is expected to oppose her pretrial release without a stringent commitment to obey the restrictions imposed on her.

Had Sought Confrontation

The confrontation Monday was one that Winnie Mandela had sought in her effort to force South Africa's minority white government either to jail her under the country's security laws, risking the international and domestic protests that would follow, or to retreat and lift the "banning" order on her entirely so that she can live in Soweto and resume full-scale political activities.

"I am going home," she said on her arrival here from Cape Town, "and my home is in Soweto."

A second arrest, she said, "makes no difference to me, and I would even say that what to do next is their (the government's) problem, not mine. The only crime with which I am charged is being, quite quietly, in my own home. . . . In what other country on earth is it a crime to sit peacefully in your own home?"

Mandela was forcibly ejected from her house 10 days ago when the police served a new government "banning order" on her under the country's security laws. That order ended her eight years of internal exile in the remote farming community of Brandfort, 225 miles southwest of here in the Orange Free State, and it relaxed other restrictions that she had been ignoring in recent months.

But the new order continued to bar her from political activity, and it specifically forbade her from entering the Johannesburg and Roodeport magisterial districts, which include Soweto.

Defied Order

After Mandela returned home in the middle of the night in defiance of the order, she was arrested on Dec. 22 by security police, charged with violating the order under the Internal Security Act and released on her own recognizance to appear in court Jan. 22.

When the police threatened to rearrest her last week for returning to Soweto, she flew to Cape Town, and over the Christmas holiday she visited her husband, who has been imprisoned since 1962 under a life sentence for sabotage, to get his advice.

Winnie Mandela's lawyers have filed a lawsuit challenging the government order as "unreasonable and invalid," and they had hoped that--at least until the case is heard Jan. 7 and decided by the courts--the police would not rearrest her.

Warning to Mandela

But Brig. Johan Coetzee, the Soweto police commissioner, warned earlier Monday that if Mandela entered Soweto, she could "expect to be arrested and acted against on a criminal charge of contravening her banning order." Coetzee accused her of seeking "a confrontation with the police" and "international attention" by defying the government order.

Coetzee stationed combat troops at roadblocks on the main entrances to Soweto with orders to detain Mandela if she slipped past the police waiting for her at the airport. He also ordered that no newsmen be admitted to Soweto to cover the story.

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