Winnie Mandela barred from Canada

June 6, 2007 at 7:46 AM

TORONTO, June 6 (UPI) -- The ex-wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela was denied a Canadian visa and missed a Toronto event honoring her.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 70, had her bags packed and was ready to leave for the airport in South Africa when she learned that she wasn't welcome in Canada for Tuesday's staging of The Passion of Winnie, newspapers in Canada reported.

"She's devastated, we're devastated. She'd gone a week before that to get her visa and everything was fine," event organizer Carole Adriaans told the Toronto Star.

Madikizela-Mandela had been scheduled to speak at the event. Actor LeVar Burton filled in for her and six other events during her trip were canceled, the Toronto Sun reported.

Canadian officials wouldn't discuss Madikizela-Mandela's case specifically. But a representative for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in Ottawa told the Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, that people convicted of serious crimes aren't given Canadian visas. Madikizela-Mandela was convicted in 1991 of kidnapping and being an accessory to murder in the death of a 14-year-old boy. In 2003, she was convicted of 68 counts of theft and fraud. She never served jail time, the Star reported.

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