CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, FEB. 5 -- A South African Supreme Court judge today denied a request for the dismissal of kidnapping charges against Winnie Mandela, ending her defense lawyers' attempts to derail the trial or separate her case from those of seven codefendants.
But Judge M.S. Stegmann did order the state to provide details and amend its charges against Mandela in response to her lawyers' complaints that it had failed to make clear the precise nature of her alleged involvement in the incident. The ruling suspended the trial until Monday to allow time for the state to comply with Stegmann's order and for the defense to study the amended charges.
Mandela has been charged with four counts of kidnapping and four of assault in the connection with a late 1989 case involving four Soweto township youths, one of whom, "Stompie" Moketsi Seipei, was murdered. The four youths allegedly were kidnapped by members of her Mandela United Football Club, taken to her home and then beaten.
The allegations say she took part in the first beatings.
Seven other associates of Mandela were to have gone on trial with her but four have skipped bail and disappeared. All have been charged on the same eight counts on the basis of a "common purpose" doctrine used extensively by the state against antiapartheid activists.
Mandela's chief attorney, George Bizos, argued Monday that the indictment had failed to make clear how, when and in what circumstances she had been involved in the kidnapping and demanded that the charges be quashed.
Lawyers for the other defendants made similar arguments for their clients.
The leading prosecution counsel, Jan Swonepoel argued that Mandela's involvement in the kidnapping could be "inferred" because the kidnappers allegedly had used her bus and chauffeur and taken the four youths to her home.
Stegmann ordered the state to make clear whether it contended the bus was used "with her knowledge" and whether her driver, John Morgan, who is on trial with her, drove the vehicle with her knowledge.
He also ordered slight changes in the charges against the other three accused.
"It is quite fair and reasonable to expect the accused's legal advisers to be able to grasp and understand the case against each of them to enable them to prepare their defense," Stegmann said.