Johannesburg: Winnie Mandela has labelled writer Nadira Naipaul "a liar and a fraud" following a controversy over an article written by her in which the estranged wife of South Africa`s apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was critical of him.
"Ms Naipaul is a liar and a fraud - I gave her no interview," Madikizela-Mandela wrote in a lengthy article in the weekly `Sunday Times` here.
"(The article) is a figment of her malicious imagination," Madikizela-Mandela wrote later in the article as she denied that Naipaul had interviewed her while on a visit to Mandela`s Soweto home with her husband and celebrated author Sir VS Naipaul.
In the widely publicised article that appeared in the `London Evening Standard`, Madikizela-Mandela was quoted as saying that her 92-year-old former husband had let down the majority black citizens of South Africa by entering into a deal with the then white apartheid government.
"Mandela let us down. He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks. Economically, we are still on the outside. The economy is very much white. It has a few token blacks, but so many who gave their life in the struggle have died unrewarded," she was quoted as saying.
Madikizela-Mandela also allegedly told Naipaul that she would never forgive Mandela for accepting the Nobel Peace Prize along with then president FW de Klerk of the all-white minority ruling National Party.
She also came across as highly critical of another struggle icon and Nobel laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Madikizela-Mandela wrote that it was "disturbing" that the `Evening Standard` had not checked the interview with her, accusing local media of giving "a distant journalist and a paper known for its sensationalism the benefit of the doubt, and not me."
"I will in the coming days deal with what I see as an inexplicable attempt to undermine the unity of my family, the legacy of Nelson Mandela and the high regard with which the name Mandela is held here and across the globe."
"I have already had the opportunity to speak to Bishop Tutu, who was also in Atlanta, USA where I addressed a meeting. I intend speaking with Madiba and Graca (her former husband and his wife), as I regularly do. I will also have to deal with the hurt caused to my children and grandchildren by the unwarranted and untrue statements about their private lives. I appreciate the fact that my organisation the ANC decided to hear my side before making any judgements."
"Finally I repeat that I did not give Ms Naipul any interview. Any further questions about the content of that fictitious interview should be addressed to her."
`The Sunday Times` said it could not reach Naipaul for comment, but London Evening Standard managing editor Doug Wills earlier told local media that the interview had taken place and Mandela had even posed for a picture with Naipaul afterwards.
The photograph was reproduced here in the weekly `Saturday Star`, which said it had independently verified that the meeting did take place last July and that it was at Sir VS Naipaul`s insistence as part of the research he was doing for his new novel.
"He was particularly interested in how her beliefs had sustained her during her numerous detentions during the struggle. It was during this meeting that the conversation apparently digressed."