Winnie Mandela returns to S. African scene

April 3, 2009 at 7:45 AM
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SOWETO, South Africa, April 3 (UPI) -- The former wife of Nelson Mandela is making a return to South African politics, with observers saying she could be elected to a Cabinet post later this month.

Winnie Mandela, who lives in Soweto, is guaranteed a return to Parliament and is expected to win a Cabinet post after South Africa's Electoral Court dismissed a petition seeking her disqualification, The Times of London reported Friday.

The South African Constitution bars a person sentenced to more than a year in jail from seeking office until five years after the sentence is completed. In 2003, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud and theft but the sentence was reduced to a suspended sentence of 3 1/2 years, which will be completed in July. Because Mandela didn't spend a day in prison, the court ruled the prohibition didn't apply.

Elections will be conducted April 22.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, Mandela and her husband were symbols of the anti-apartheid struggle. Her fall from grace began in 1985, when she seemed to advocate necklacing -- placing a gasoline-soaked tire around a person's neck and setting it on fire -- a form of execution officially condemned by her party, the African National Congress, the anti-apartheid movement that became the country's ruling party.

She was convicted on fraud and kidnapping charges tied to killings and beatings carried out by her bodyguards, fired as deputy minister by Nelson Mandela, who later called her a serial adulterer. She resigned from Parliament in 2003.

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