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April 23, 2018

'Raw emotion' as Winnie Mandela film airs in South Africa

Mourners attend a memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg's Soweto township, South Africa April 11, 2018. /REUTERS
Mourners attend a memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg's Soweto township, South Africa April 11, 2018. /REUTERS

A documentary detailing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's role in bringing down South Africa's apartheid government has many in South Africa raw with emotion.

Winnie, made by French director Pascale Lamche, was aired last night on satellite TV channel eNCA.

It has been trending on social media, with many expressing heartbreak at how the "ANC (African National Congress) failed Mam Winnie".

It is a marked departure from the narrative which has dominated local and international media in the past, and even after Madikizela-Mandela’s death on April 2, of a power hungry, villainous woman.

More on this: Winnie Mandela's last words in final fiery interview before death

Also read: Winnie Mandela's funeral: All you need to know

The film shows a woman who was overlooked by history and betrayed by many she trusted. It includes exclusive interview footage of Madikizela-Mandela speaking about key moments in her downfall.

She addresses the death of Stompei Seipei, a 14-year-old boy kidnapped by her bodyguards, whose subsequent killing she repeatedly denied any involvement in.

Madikizela-Mandela also says that ANC leaders sold her out at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to neutralise her power, when they surrendered her as the only member of the party to defend her actions during the fight against apartheid.

We also see explosive confessions by former heads of apartheid security police, admitting they had 40 journalists on their payroll and used them to spread misinformation about Madikizela-Mandela in a convert mission known as Stratcom.

For many, the documentary answers a lingering question many South Africans had: Why could Nelson Mandela forgive his oppressors and not his wife for her indiscretions?

The film alleges that when Mr Mandela was fresh out of prison and the presidency beckoned, he was given an ultimatum by the ANC leadership to "divorce Winnie or lose the presidency".

Perhaps this was the ultimate betrayal for Madikizela-Mandela.

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