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Winnie Mandela Won’t Go Quietly After All, May Appeal Divorce

March 20, 1996

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Winnie Mandela may not be going away so quietly after all.

A day after a judge granted President Nelson Mandela a divorce on grounds that his wife had been unfaithful, Mrs. Mandela said Wednesday that she was considering an appeal to South Africa’s highest court.

Mrs. Mandela had fired her lawyer moments before Judge Frikkie Eloff ordered an end to the 38-year marriage. In a combative statement, she complained that she had been forced to represent herself, and that Eloff had refused to wait for her to bring in witnesses.

``My ex-husband has fought all his life against this kind of injustice,″ she said. ``That such injustice happened in his presence undermines everything our marriage was all about.″

She signed her statement Madikizela-Mandela, incorporating her maiden name.

It was not clear whether there were grounds for the Constitutional Court appeal she said she was considering. But her statement showed determination not to quietly end a marriage that had symbolized the struggle against white minority rule yet collapsed as the black majority came to power.

Mandela, 77, asked for a divorce last year, expressing hope there wouldn’t be an unpleasant public spectacle. Mrs. Mandela, 60, refused, forcing this week’s divorce proceedings.

In his own short statement Wednesday, Mandela said he regretted his ``ex-wife could not bring herself to negotiate an amicable settlement. It would have saved us both and our children much pain.″

Mrs. Mandela did not show up earlier Wednesday for a financial settlement hearing, so the judge threw out her claim for half of Mandela’s assets. Mandela later offered an unspecified out-of-court settlement.

According to his attorney, Wim Trengove, Mandela has already contributed more than $750,000 to his ex-wife’s ``well-being,″ including paying for her defense in a kidnapping trial.

Mrs. Mandela estimates her husband’s worth at $10 million. But in an affidavit filed before the court case, Mandela described his worth as ``not of consequence.″

His presidential salary is $142,000 a year, with most of his other income from a best-selling autobiography donated to charity.

In divorce hearings that began Monday, Mandela was compelled to testify in court for the first time since a seminal anti-apartheid trial in 1964. He testified that his marriage had broken down almost immediately after he was freed from prison in 1990.

He said he felt nothing but ``loneliness″ living with his wife, and became convinced of her infidelity after a newspaper editor showed him a love letter she had written to her personal assistant, lawyer Dali Mpofu. The two denied having an affair.

The Mandelas separated in 1992 after she was convicted and fined in her bodyguards’ kidnapping of four black youths. One of the youths was beaten to death.

The couple wed in 1958 during a five-year treason trial in which Mandela was a defendant; his new wife sat in the gallery watching the proceedings. They have two daughters. Mandela’s first marriage also ended in divorce.

During Mandela’s imprisonment, she became an anti-apartheid leader in her own right but lost influence as Mandela pushed the African National Congress along a more moderate course. She was fired last year as deputy minister of arts and culture for insubordination but remains a member of parliament.

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