SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA, SEPT. 24 -- Winnie Mandela, who was banished to internal exile for her anti-apartheid efforts in the past, appeared in court again today, this time on charges of kidnapping and assaulting four black youths, one of whom was subsequently murdered.

This time, there were no black demonstrations or cries of white injustice over the indictment. Winnie Mandela and her husband, Nelson, the African National Congress leader, said they welcomed the trial as a chance to clear her name and restore her tarnished reputation in the black community.

Winnie Mandela won agreement of the Soweto magistrate's court for a postponement of the proceedings until Feb. 4 and was released on her own recognizance. Her lawyer, Ismail Ayob, argued that the state's proposed trial date of Oct. 30 was too soon and that he needed more time to prepare her defense.

The trial is to take place Feb. 4 in Johannesburg's Rand Supreme Court.

Ayob noted that Mandela had only last Tuesday been formally apprised of the charges and had already made plans to accompany her husband abroad on a trip to the Soviet Union and Far East from Oct. 8 to Nov. 2.

Mandela, 56, has been a controversial figure in the black community ever since the late 1988 scandal involving her Mandela United Football Club, whose coach and members allegedly were involved in the kidnapping and beating of at least four Soweto youths and the killing of one of them.

Mandela was condemned and run out of the United Democratic Front, the umbrella anti-apartheid organization that operated inside South Africa while the ANC was banned.

She made no attempt to challenge the court's authority today as she stood quietly in the dock alongside one of seven codefendants. She was accompanied by her husband but no other high-ranking ANC officials.

Neither addressed the large crowd of photographers and reporters who attended the court session. But they smiled and waved to a small crowd of enthusiastic supporters, who sang freedom songs and danced alongside them as they left the court.

Outside, a group of admirers carried signs such as "We Love You Winnie," "If Winnie is Guilty, So Is {Justice Minister Adriaan} Vlok."

The ANC later put out a 39-word statement saying she had appeared before the court, had her trial postponed until Feb. 4 and "there will be no further comment from the ANC in this regard."

The charges against the eight codefendants arise out of a murder case in which one of Mandela's bodyguards, Football Club coach Jerry Richardson, has been found guilty and sentenced to death.

The victim was James Moeketsi "Stompie" Seipie, 14, who the previous trial found to have been kidnapped with three other young men on Dec. 29, 1988, and taken to Winnie Mandela's home in Soweto. There, according to testimony, the four youths were severely beaten by her and several of her associates.

Seipie, suspected of being a police spy, was taken from the house by Richardson and was found dead in a nearby field Jan. 6, 1989. The three other teenagers all testified against Richardson and implicated Mandela in the kidnapping and beatings.

She is to stand trial together with the other seven on four charges of kidnapping and four of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. But she has not been charged as an accomplice in Seipie's murder.

The indictment sheet, made available today by Transvaal Attorney General Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau, alleges that the eight accused assaulted Seipie "by hitting him with open hands, clenched fists and a sjambok {whip}, also by kicking him, by lifting him up and then dropping him to the floor, by trampling on him and by hitting him on his knees with intent to do him grievous bodily harm."

The same wording was used in the case of Seipie's three colleagues, all of whom lived at the Methodist Church manse in Soweto, from which they allegedly were kidnapped.