I like stories, I always have, I love books. As a young child growing up in a huge house in the North of England and few other kids to play with, books were my friends and confessors.
I came across a book recently, but it was a book that not only told a story, but indeed was a story all by itself. Penned in Britain, the book is all about South Africa and Winnie Mandela. Few think that Winnie was an angel; most people know that she had a few brushes with the law. Few however know the extent of her crimes: South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission basically let her off with a slap on the wrist.
A British foreign correspondent, turned author, let’s call him Fred Bridgland, well that is his name, while researching a story discovered a young almost illiterate black man languishing in jail in Zambia, let’s call him Katiza Cebekhulu, pronounced Cheb-eh-kooloo, where he had been incarcerated without charge or trial by the then Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda, at the request of South Africa’s African National Congress. The ANC kidnapped Cebekhulu and sent him to Zambia to prevent him giving evidence in the trial of Mrs Winnie Mandela in connection with the murder of a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Moeketsi. Katiza had been a member of Winnie’s personal gang of thugs, the so-called Mandela United Football Club and had been involved in many atrocities, but when he saw Mrs Mandela stab Stompie Moeketsi to death behind her Soweto house he decided to testify the truth at her trial. So the ANC had to get rid of him with Kenneth Kaunda’s help. Bridgland found Cebekhulu in the Zambian prison, secured his release and got him to the United Kingdom where last year he was given right to stay after a 7-year legal battle.
In 1997 Fred wrote a book about the story and the BBC made a one hour documentary. However the story was only half told. In 2004, while serving a 3-year jail sentence in England after stabbing a neighbor in the arm, the illiterate Katiza pleaded with Fred to help him get his full story, in Africa and subsequently in Britain, published. Fred reluctantly agreed, on two conditions – that he research how Mrs Mandela and the ANC concocted a false alibi to make sure she never went to prison, and that Fred tell the story of many of the other “little people” who had been killed or harmed by Mrs Mandela and her Football Club. Fred would front the money and the revenues from the book would be split 3 ways: 45% Katiza, 45% fred, and 10% Nicholas. Who is Nicholas? Nicholas Claxton is a well known film maker and his 10% was a consideration because he intended to use his contacts to make a feature movie based on the new book. Claxton gave Cebekhulu £1,000 ($2000) to demonstrate the seriousness of his offer of help. By any standards Claxton’s was a pretty generous offer.
I was gloriously unaware of any of this until 3 weeks ago. I didn’t know Katiza, Fred or Nicholas. In 2007 I wrote a throw away article about Canada refusing a visa to Winnie Mandela, and how the month before the US had granted her one. Someone by the name of Katiza left a comment:
I was the man that accused Winnie Mandela of kill people in Soweto. I was kidnapped in South Africa by ANC and put in prison in Zambia on Mandela is order.
In 1997I went to South Africa to gave evidence against her but nothing happed to her.
My web site gets lots of cranky comments, but this one seemed genuine, the English was bad enough to be credible. I sent an email to the address provided inviting him to tell me his story. I received no reply, and within a few days forgot all about it.
Three weeks ago the dam broke, Katiza was back.
.you wanted to write story about me.
My Name is Katiza Cebekhulu. I just finished my Book Bout my life With Winnie and Mandela. I don’t know if you be interested in the Story
serialisation of the book or possible extracts if possible
He had written a book and started to send me parts of his book. There was no way he had written it, he knows words but has no clue about grammar. Obviously it was ghost written, but lots of people use ghost writers, no harm no fowl. For some reason he copied me on some email threads that were none of my business, but they bothered me, they were emails from and to Katiza to Fred, Nicholas, the cover designer, and some lawyers. I found myself in a unique position. I had the big picture, Katiza was going rogue. I had a moral obligation to inform Fred and Nicholas. That resulted in another deluge of emails and attachments of letters from lawyers.
Things went quiet for a few days and I assumed that the three of them could resolve the issues. Not so, as I learned this morning Katiza has broken every copyright law in the land and published the book on Kindle with total disregard of the agreed contract, Katiza 100%, everyone else 0%.
Of course Sundays are not a good day for finding judges and getting injections etc. Fred is hotter than a pepper sprout. Thousands of dollars out of pocket and thousands of hours of research down the drain.
There is one word screaming at me, Why? Why would Katiza turn his back on the very man that tried to help him? This is a quote from the introduction of the legitimate book:
This book is the story of the redemptive journey of a young, uneducated man from the black townships of South Africa who became embroiled in the violence of Mrs Winnie Mandela’s notorious bodyguard-cum-vigilante group, the so-called Mandela United Football Club.
The man is Katiza Cebekhulu.
While reporting a general election in Zambia, as the Africa correspondent of a British Sunday newspaper, I found him languishing in a prison cell in which he had been incarcerated without charge or trial. At that time, Katiza was known only as the “missing witness” from the trial in Johannesburg, South Africa, of Mrs Mandela, accused of kidnapping and assaulting a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Moeketsi, whose battered and stabbed body had been found in a Soweto township mortuary.
With the help of the United Nations, the then President of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba, and others, I helped get Katiza released from prison and then be given temporary asylum in Britain, where I recorded interviews with him for several weeks as we sat together in a caravan on a Devon cliff-top. His story was extraordinary.
I am of the glass half full club rather than the glass half empty club. I like to see good in everyone. I want to think that Katiza is not acting out of greed, it is more of a cultural Knee Jerk, but what is acceptable in Soweto townships, does not work nearly as well in England, or indeed the US. Or possibly he is listening to poor council.
It is a shame that such an important book has become mired in such controversy.