In life, she represented the very antithesis of everything he stands for and believes in, but even one of apartheid’s last die-hard supporters yesterday couldn’t deny the respect he had for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Piet Rudolph, commonly known as “Piet Skiet”, is an Afrikaner nationalist, who served as a former Pretoria city councillor, as both a member of the Herstigte Nasionale Party and the Conservative Party, and was a prominent member of the AWB.
He has also served in several right-wing formations, the most recent of which is Geloftevolk Republikeine of Andries Visagie, of “don’t touch me on my studio” fame.
During the transition to democracy in 1993, Rudolph received a letter from Nelson Mandela, warning him against his and his followers’ threats of violent opposition to democracy.
Rudolph posted a message on the Geloftevolk Republikeine’s Facebook page yesterday, titled “The End of An Era”, in which he expressed his feelings about Madikizela-Mandela.
He admitted that the right wing could impossibly harbour “any admiration for this remarkable woman”.
However, this did not stop him from expressing his respect for her and her convictions.
“Despite anything you would like to say about Winnie Mandela,” his post reads, “it cannot be overlooked that she stuck to her convictions – whether right or wrong – and that she lived fearlessly.”
Rudolph reminded the page’s 412 members that Madikizela-Mandela’s role as an enemy of the NP government meant she was the target of a major misinformation campaign – and that it would be impossible to determine what was true and what wasn’t.
He acknowledges her role in keeping the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in the public conscience, both locally and internationally.
“That she was a freedom fighter, who was willing to stand up for what she believes in is undeniable and, for that, you have to respect her,” he told The Citizen.
“I know how the security police operated and how they treated her and people like her. The fact that she kept fighting despite this is admirable.”
Rudolph added: “The fact that she was willing to speak up, and speak out against the treatment of Boer women and children in the English concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer war, shows the strength of her character.
“I have high regard for her in this respect, since many people like to pretend that it never happened,” he said.