'The day Winnie rapped me over the knuckles' - Reverend Danny Chetty

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Anti-apartheid activist Reverend Danny Chetty says the first time he met Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the early 90s was not only "a shock and pleasure", but also an occasion where she severely chastised him.

Speaking to News24, Chetty, who is now director of Practical Ministries, said at the time the KwaZulu-Natal southern region had been reeling from a series of killings linked to alleged witchcraft and instances where young people were pitted against chiefs and izinduna.

"These horrific killings forced me to seek help from elders such as Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Reverend Frank Chikane as well as Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi to make some headway," he said.

READ: Samp and friendship with my Winnie

It was a December evening at the home of the late Fatima Meer when Chetty was summoned to meet Madikizela-Mandela.

"When you worked with [the likes of Fatima] Meer [you understood] they were very instructive. It was a shock and pleasure to me to be confronted with this icon."

During their meeting, Chetty said Madikizela-Mandela rapped him over the knuckles.

'Strong, uncompromising'

"She strongly chastised me. She said that as church leaders, we were allowing these killings to go on without getting the church of the ministers fully involved."

Chetty said Madikizela-Mandela was very strong-willed.

"She asked what we were doing. She said we were meant to be sorting all these issues out. It was our responsibility. It was tough to hear these things, but I felt that somebody cared enough to be strong with me."

He said her words had hit home.

"Her words were strong, uncompromising and urged me to do everything possible on the ground to seek peace. The meeting was very short, but I felt encouraged that I was able to brief her and know that I had her support."

He said Madikizela-Mandela also reinvigorated his faith.

'One of the last'

"She had said to us we claim to represent a God of justice and peace. We claim to stand for the protection of life. She said we had to act and stop the killings. She made us own it and own our home and what happened in it."

Chetty, who himself spent time in Westville Prison at the hands of the apartheid security police, said with Madikizela-Mandela's death came the end of an era.

"I think Mama Winnie was one of those last remaining amazing veterans. Her whole life was marred with so much personal pain and trauma. There was so much demonisation. I am amazed that she rose above this."

He said it was South Africa's responsibility to follow her example.

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