Winnie Mandela releases prison journal

2013-08-09 07:27
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela speaks at the launch of her book about her arrest and imprisonment during apartheid, at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela speaks at the launch of her book about her arrest and imprisonment during apartheid, at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie on Thursday released a book about her detention by the apartheid regime, a time she described as the darkest part of her life.

The book 491 Days: Prisoner number 1323/69 is based on a journal Winnie Madikizela-Mandela kept in prison during her detention.

"In my mind I felt that we needed to tell the story to the future generations, so that what happened there never happens again," she said at the launch in Johannesburg.

In the book Winnie shares some of her journal entries as well as letters between her husband and herself.

"Solitary confinement is worse than hard labour," she said.

"When you stretch your hands you touch the walls, you are reduced to a nobody."

The book details her harrowing isolated confinement for over a year after security police detained her at her Soweto home on 12 May 1969.

An anti-apartheid activist in her own right, she was held at Pretoria Central Prison with a group of other fighters under the notorious Terrorism Act.

Her then-husband Nelson Mandela had already been in prison for almost seven years by then.

A lawyer's widow had the journal, and returned it to Madikizela-Mandela 41 years after her release on 14 September 1970.

She said reading the journal brought back painful memories about the suffering she, her family and her two children Zindzi and Zenani - then little girls -experienced.

"I could only read one paragraph and put it away," she said.

"Words cannot describe the feelings and the pain, especially now that their father is in hospital," she said.

Nelson Mandela, 95, marked two months in hospital on Thursday, where he is undergoing treatment for a serious lung infection.

The pair divorced in 1996, two years after he became South Africa's first black president.

Winnie Mandela is still revered as mother of the nation, despite her implication in the death of activists on the eve of apartheid's end and a corruption conviction a decade later.

Read more on:    winnie madikizela-mandela

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Meet instagram star, Pumpkin the racoon

With 300 000 followers and growing Pumpkin is winning over the internet!



The cats that cost R35 000
Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy
13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

In order to really connect to your feelings, you need to quieten your mind. Let go of expectations and connect to the moment more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.