Former safety and security minister Sydney Mufamadi has moved to distance himself from a plot to discredit late struggle hero Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
He held a media briefing at the St George’s Anglican Church in Parktown on Monday morning, in a bid to correct some of the allegations levelled against him in a documentary about the liberation hero. Mufamadi denied ever giving orders for the case of Moeketsi "Stompie" Seipei’s murder against Madikizela-Mandela to be reopened.
"As far as operational issues are concerned, deciding whether to open or close investigation, that is the province of the national commissioner, not the responsibility of the minister,” said Mufamadi.
He told journalists that it was then-Democratic Party leader Tony Leon who asked then-police commissioner George Fivaz to look into the matter.
The former minister also claimed that those who had come forward to clear the struggle hero’s name, like Fivaz, had already done so in the past.
The award-winning documentary, simply titled Winnie, tells the story of how she carried the liberation movement while many of its leaders were imprisoned or in exile. It also explores the problematic relationship between the African National Congress and the United Democratic Front following the Stompie murder allegations and rumours of Madikizela-Mandela's infidelity.
Mufamadi, in a briefing that lasted two hours, talked about some of the events in the country at the time. He admitted that he had knowledge of the decision to reopen the investigation, but that he had no say in how Fivaz would go about doing his job.
"He could not do an investigation of that kind without telling the minister. It’s an investigation focused on a public representative - a Member of Parliament, Winnie Mandela - who was part of this movement that brought about change in the country, and so on," he said.
While discussing the brutality of the apartheid system, Mufamadi said they had known about the strategic communication (Stratcom) unit of the apartheid government, and its work.
"Discussing with comrades in Lusaka, I was very clear that there were Stratcom operations, intent on vilifying comrade Winnie as a way of vilifying us,” he said.
Responding to SABC economics editor Thandeka Gqubule, who has been accused of being one of 40 journalists who worked for the Stratcom unit, Mufamadi said he was also a victim in the matter. He said he couldn’t give her answers as to whether her name appeared in Stratcom files or not.
Gqubule was one of the first journalists to break the Stompie story.
"You can’t work for Stratcom and expose their operation. That is simple logic. I am not cleansing you, because I don’t have answers to the actual questions you are having," said Mufamadi.
"The files were taken away, presumably by people who owned those files. Some were destroyed and others used in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission," he said.
'First thing they look for is a lie to tell you'
Gqubule responded by saying that she was disappointed that she couldn’t find answers as to who her "handler" was and what her "code name" was supposed to be.
"Ex-Stratcom people… first thing they look for is a lie to tell you, it doesn’t have to be plausible," said Mufamadi.
Earlier, he called out Pascale Lamche, who made the award-winning documentary, for failing to get in touch with him during the project.
"I wonder whether the people who give these awards regard issues of ethics being of any materiality," the former minister asked.
He said the documentary contained chilling revelations about people who were still alive.
"They are very much available. You don’t think they have a right to put forward a version to corroborate what other people are saying, or which may need to be compared or contrasted to what the other people are saying, which would have been a fair thing, I think, to do," he said.
Mufamadi and Lamche took over most of the media briefing as they went back and forth over some of the information contained in the documentary. In the end, Lamche apologised, but said she felt vindicated that Mufamadi had met with the former head of Soweto's murder and robbery unit, Henk Heslinga.
"He was aware of the investigations, he was the person in charge, and that it was a cross-frontier investigation," said Lamche