Ex-Winnie Mandela vigilante who was due to testify in infamous murder trial is jailed after brandishing meat cleaver in Southsea

KATIZA Cebekhulu drinks alcohol to forget. But he will forever be tarnished by the horrors of South Aftrica in the 1980s – highlighted after he was imprisoned for brandishing a meat cleaver in Southsea.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 4:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 4:37 pm
Katiza Cebekhulu with a baseball bat in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth. He was previously caught with a meat cleaver in Southsea Courtesy of CPS Wessex

The 49-year-old was part of the notorious vigilante ‘Mandela Football Club’ at a time of brutality and murder in the underbelly of the country.

Cebekhulu rose to prominence after becoming the so-called ‘missing witness’ from the high-profile Johannesburg trial where Winnie Mandela, wife of Nelson Mandela, was accused of the torture and murder of 14-year-old boy Stompie Moeketsi.

Cebekhulu had claimed he saw Winnie Mandela stab the boy – thought to be a police spy. He disappeared on the eve of the 1991 trial in which he was expected to testify against Winnie Mandela.

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Katiza Cebekhulu with a baseball bat in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth. He was previously caught with a meat cleaver in Southsea Courtesy of CPS Wessex

After living in fear, as recounted in his book Winnie Mandela, Nelson and Me, the former assassin fled war-torn South African before coming to the UK in 1999.

But Portsmouth Crown Court was told that in August last year, after 15 years out of trouble in this country, a drunk Cebekhulu was involved in an altercation in Drift Bar on Palmerston Road which spilled out on to the street.

‘There was an exchange of words with door staff. The defendant then pulled a meat cleaver from his trousers. It was substantial – a proper meat cleaver that was about 7in long and 3in deep,’ prosecutor James Kellam told the court.

‘He was brandishing it at door staff. They courageously took it off him before he made off.’

Katiza Cebekhulu

In February this year, Cebekhulu was involved in a similar incident in the early hours one morning when he threatened security staff in Guildhall Walk with a baseball bat. ‘He was seen clearly brandishing the bat and was talking about finding the man from the previous incident,’ Mr Kellam said.

The South African was arrested and charged for both offences.

Cebekhulu, of St James Court, Southsea, admitted two charges of possessing an offensive weapon. 

His barrister Howard Barrington-Clark said of his troubled past: ‘In his formative years he witnessed unbelievable violence that has scarred him. He drinks a lot to dampen the pain.

‘He has kept his nose clean for 15 years and then this happens. He loses his job, spirals into depression and hits the drink. He has all the symptoms of someone with post-traumatic stress disorder.’

He added: ‘It’s very easy for us to judge on the values of this country we live in today not that of 1980s South Africa. If you live in a certain culture then you become a certain way.’

Recorder Michael Bowes QC jailed Cebekhulu for 18 months after branding his behaviour as ‘dangerous’.