Exclusive: Beaten and betrayed by Winnie Mandela, illegally imprisoned by Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda . . . how much longer will we turn our backs on this courageous African whistle-blower?
Amid the current international media focus on the marriage of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, the eye has again been taken off the ball of the murders committed by Mrs Mandela and her notorious Mandela United Football Club.
Katiza Cebekhulu, a young Zulu who said he saw Mrs Mandela kill a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Moeketsi, and order the assassination of her personal medical doctor, Abu-Baker Asvat, is about to publish (on Amazon Kindle) his own account of the Mandela saga, to be titled Nelson Mandela, Winnie and Me.
He describes how he was abducted and taken to Zambia by an African National Congress hit-squad to prevent him giving evidence in the trial of Mrs Mandela for kidnapping and assaulting Moeketsi. In Zambia Cebekhulu was imprisoned in squalid conditions by the then State President Kenneth Kaunda without charge or trial for nearly three years. Kaunda told a BBC TV team that he detained Cebekhulu at the request of Nelson Mandela.
Cebekhulu has now lived in the United Kingdom for 27 years following his release from Kaunda’s prison. But he has also been treated cruelly by the British ruling political establishment. His book describes his struggles in Britain, Zambia and South Africa. At times, in Britain, he has been homeless. In the following excerpt from Nelson Mandela, Winnie and Me he describes graphically his frightening experiences living as a down-and-out in London.
The author writes in his forthcoming book –
My hands were numb from the cold as Christmas 2004 approached and as I begged for food scraps and money outside fast-food restaurants. I had jumped bail following an assault conviction and had gone on the run from the law and become a down-and-out in a south London suburb, Croydon. My life was in shambles. I was mentally and spiritually exhausted. I felt I had sabotaged myself.
My days were so empty, and the nights were long. I had nowhere to live, so I made my way to Queen’s Gardens, a pretty little park in Croydon where a charity called Nightwatch ran an evening soup kitchen for homeless people. I was given two sandwiches and a cup of tomato soup. I looked at my new comrades. Some were drinking heavily – cheap cider, beer, whisky and meths. Others were high on drugs. One had made a bed with cardboard. Another was asleep under a tree. There were men whose marriages had collapsed, some who had spent their lives in institutions, others who were broken ex-soldiers and several who had been sexually abused as children. But the biggest problem was severe depression which had driven so many of them, just like me, to drink and drugs.
Katiza Cebekhulu in Edinburgh before his homeless ordeal bagan in London
That first night in the park I fell asleep on a bench. I was woken by a policewoman at 9 a.m. who said it was time to move out of the park and that I should not return until evening. When I returned some of the guys were already drinking meths and cider, smoking weed or injecting themselves with heroin. There were discarded needles everywhere.
I think God is the only one who knows why I did not die in the following months. After just three nights I realised that I stank like a rotting fish. My fingernails were filled with dirt. There was nowhere to wash my body or clothes. I was in an appalling state.
By October the nights were very cold and I wanted to die in my sleep. I no longer considered myself human. I thought of suicide, but I did not know how to kill myself and began hoping a car would hit me and end it all.
Darkness became my home. I was depressed and full of self-pity. Years of struggle, deprivation and despair had resulted in …. Nothing. I was spiritually lost. I had not combed my hair for months and it was only by some kind of luck that I did not die of hypothermia. No one was going to rescue me. It was me alone against my demons.
Some nights I slept in an area under a tree soaked with down-and-outs’ urine because I thought it would keep me warm. Foxes wandered past. I would wake with insects crawling in my hair and clothes.
I woke one morning after dreaming of warm rain. I realised I had pissed myself. I nearly died at one point: I had imbibed heavily, and a fellow down-and-out, Bill Jordan, woke me up and said I had been unconscious for three days. Bill said I needed to get away because as an African I was not tough enough to survive the British winter. I would die.
I could hardly bear to look at one old man, Lester, who slept near me. He shivered non-stop and his skin glowed scarlet. I gave him my spare pair of shoes and a T-shirt. Someone said to me: “You’re on the street too. Why do you have to give him clothes?” But some one had to. Lester died in hospital a week later. I too was dead – in my head and in my heart, at any rate.
Police squads arrived one morning at Queen’s Gardens and questioned all of us. One of the vagrants, on the other side of the park from where I dossed, had been stabbed through his rectum with a nine-inch Stanley knife. He died. In another attack, a 20-year-old youth, high on cocaine and soaked in alcohol, tried to scalp a 45-year-old Irish down-and-out, leaving the victim, John Fennessy, with severe brain damage. The assailant, Kenneth Smith, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for that offence. But that same night he had kicked to death another vagrant, 65-year-old Lalji Joshi, who was sleeping under a nearby bridge: for that Smith was sent to prison for life.
I was so miserable that I decided to get myself arrested so I could enjoy the warmth of a police cell and get some food.
I wandered around the suburban streets holding a knife upright in my hand taken from one of the park junkies. People reeled back in fear and began phoning the police to report me. A squad car drew up within a few minutes and I was handcuffed and bundled into the back. In the police station I was stripped and showered and charged with carrying an offensive weapon. I smelled like a sack of refuse because I had not bathed for months. The police gave me some old but clean clothes while my own were sent away to be boiled and washed.
I showered and lay down on a bed in a heated cell beneath a clean blanket and fell into a blissful sleep.