Zindzi Mandela's childhood friend in Brandfort saddened by dilapidated state of the house they grew up in

2018-04-10 08:05
Mildred Francis Monyani, childhood friend of Zindzi Mandela, is appalled at the state of the home of struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Mildred Francis Monyani, childhood friend of Zindzi Mandela, is appalled at the state of the home of struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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A childhood friend of Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was appalled to see the state of the house where she and the family had made many memories.

"The house is a shadow of its former self," said Mildred Francis Monyani, 58.

She was speaking of the house in Brandfort in the Free State which Madikizela-Mandela had occupied during the time she was banished by Security Branch police in 1977.

READ: It's a mistake. I apologise - Mantashe on museum plans for Winnie's Brandfort home

The three-bedroom house, which was supposed to be converted into a museum years ago, was in a dilapidated and deplorable state.

Monyani, who recently retired from the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), said she was disappointed to see the house in that state.

"The last time I remember, this house was such a beautiful house. Mama Winnie had a lawn. It was beautiful. She had a garden with roses. She had also built a clinic… for the Brandfort community."

Stench of urine

News24 visited the house, which has been in the news since Madikizela-Mandela died on April 2 at the age of 81.

Showing the News24 team where the kitchen used to be, Monyani said: "This is where you would always find her. That woman knew how to cook."

PICS: Condition of Winnie Madikizela Mandela's house in Brandfort

Monyani proceeded through the empty house. A strong stench of urine lingered in the air.

"This used to be her bedroom. She was very fond of pictures. There were a lot of nice things," she said.

She proceeded to another room which she recalled was the living room.

"It was nice and cosy. She had a cabinet. There were also sofas."

Monyani said that if only someone from the family could have remained behind, South Africans would have had a chance to see how beautiful the house was.

She recalled that Madikizela-Mandela was a strict mother: "She would beat us."

"I think I was around 23 when they moved into Brandfort. They always passed by my house on their way to town.

"They would stop and ask how we were and Zindzi wanted to come and visit my house and that is how the friendship developed."

Police watch

Despite the difficult conditions under which they lived, they always found time for a good night out.

"We used to go out grooving. During the day, [Mama Winnie] would give us the car to go and groove in Bloemfontein because Brandfort was so boring.

"As our friendship developed, Mama Winnie became like my mum as well. Most of the time we were together at home."

The home where Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lived is in a dilapidated state. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Monyani laughed when she recalled the day Madikizela-Mandela caught them trying to sneak out.  

"We wanted to rush out and we wanted to go to the next house. We climbed a tree and before jumping, my trouser was caught on the tree and she scolded us, asking where we were going. And she said we must go into the house."

Monyani said the house would always be a reminder of Madikizela-Mandela and that she hoped the government would restore it.

Most of time, the police would sit at the tower on the koppie (hill) which overlooked the house, to monitor who went in and out of the property.

"They told me that they saw me going into Winnie's house and I told them that I went to Zindzi and they asked me since when [had we been friends].

"They asked me if Winnie was talking to me and I told them that she never talked to me about politics because she could see that we were young and a little dom [stupid]."

Monyani said she was saddened by the death of Madikizela-Mandela.

"We have lost someone who was really great for the community of Brandfort. I will never forget for what she did for the community."

Monyani said she did not think she would be able to make it to the funeral on Saturday.

However, she had a message for Zindzi:  "I miss her and she must try and come and visit us. We need her to come, and she must not leave this house like this. [There are]… memories in this house."

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