TFSnewsRoom/DrudgeReTort.com Posted Jun 6, 2007 9:07 AM
Winnie Mandela refused Canadian visa
Jun 05, 2007 12:56 PM
OTTAWA – Winnie Mandela, a South African AIDS activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, was refused a visa by Canadian officials one day before she was to give a speech at the opening of a Toronto opera celebrating her life, according to an organizer of the event.
Carole Adriaans said in a telephone interview that Mandela applied for a visa one week ago but learned Monday that she had been denied permission to travel to Toronto. Adriaans said that Mandela was "devastated" to receive the news, as was the cast of The Passion of Winnie, which is described as a show that follows the life of the South African human rights crusader.
Immigration officials as well as a spokesman for Immigration Minister Diane Finley were not immediately available for comment on the matter.
The former wife of South Africa's first black president was jailed several times in the decades-long fight to end apartheid. She was sent into internal exile in 1977 by the white National Party government, cementing her reputation as a freedom fighter.
She was released from prison in 1985, but ran into serious difficulties with the law when she was sentenced to six years for kidnap and assault in connection with the death of a 14-year-old boy, but the punishment was later reduced to a fine.
She served as government minister when her husband was elected president in 1994. The couple divorced in 1996.
In 2003, Winnie Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison on more than 60 counts of theft and fraud. She was convicted of applying for bank loans on behalf of non-existent members of the African National Congress Women's League, where she was president. In her defence, she said she committed the crime to help poor women, but the judge looked past her argument saying "You are no Robin Hood."
Winnie Mandela is now more than 70 years old and has received awards as recently as two weeks ago for her work as an AIDS activist. At tonight's show, she was scheduled to deliver a keynote speech to the audience. Adriaans said they are looking at whether the speech can still be delivered by satellite.