Winnie Mandela’s former house

Winnie Mandela’s former house is now just a sex and drug den, it’s meant to be a museum

What’s supposed to be a museum is now nothing more than a hive of illegal activity.

Winnie Mandela’s former house

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will always be known as one of the most resilient struggle icons. While her husband Nelson was in jail, she continued to fight against apartheid while the government threw every deterrent they could at her.

In 1977, Mandela was banished by the Government to a house in the small Free State township of Majwemasweu. She lived in the house for 8 years, constantly under surveillance while she slept, cooked and wrote letters to Nelson.

CityPress visited the house as it stands today, it really is a sad sight. Although a large sign outside the house labels it the “Mrs Winnie Mandela House + Museum,” signs of preservation are few and far between.

The windows are broken, used condoms, joints, old clothes and beer bottles cover the floor.

“Residents say the house went from being a symbol of hope to one synonymous with all manner of social ills: one in which women are raped, where adulterous quickies take place and drug users hide out.”

R1.8 million was reportedly spent on the house to turn it into a museum for people to see exactly how Winnie lived in the house. Next to the house stood a clinic and community centre that Winnie established. The clinic was bombed by apartheid security forces in 1985 and now long grass marks the area. One resident describes how the positivity around the Museum has now completely faded.

“I was happy [thinking] that the museum project was going to end all criminal activities at this house.

“But at the rate things are going, someone will soon get killed or die from drugs there. I also don’t feel safe living next to Ma’ Winnie’s house, when I should be proud of it,” said 77-year-old Betty France, who lives next door.

For these Majwemasweu residents, it’s clear that the constant memory of Winnie Mandela has become one of fear and danger.