Winnie Mandela's chief bodyguard during the imprisonment of her husband, Nelson, was charged in court Wednesday with murdering a teen-age activist.
Jerry Richardson, 41, trainer of the self-styled Mandela United Football Club, pleaded not guilty to the 1988 killing of 14-year-old Stompie Seipei, whose death caused a furor around Winnie Mandela and her entourage.
Richardson's appearance in the Supreme Court in Johannesburg, after the case had been repeatedly postponed for over a year, coincided with the first day of exploratory talks between Nelson Mandela's African National Congress and the government.
Winnie Mandela has said her associates removed Seipei and three other youths from a Methodist-run shelter in Soweto township in December, 1988, to protect them from sexual abuse by a white priest--an allegation rejected by the church.
The Seipei case brought controversy over the thuggish behavior of the football team to a climax, prompting prominent community leaders publicly to criticize and temporarily disown Winnie Mandela.