The relationship between myself and my wife, Comrade Nomzamo Winnie Mandela, has become the subject of much media speculation. I am issuing this statement to clarify the position and in the hope that it will bring an end to further conjecture.
Comrade Nomzamo and myself contracted our marriage at a critical time in the struggle for liberation in our country. Owing to the pressures of our shared commitment to the ANC and the struggle to end apartheid, we were unable to enjoy a normal family life. Despite these pressures our love for each other and our devotion to our marriage grew and intensified.
I was compelled to go underground as of April 1961, living the life of a fugitive until my arrest by the South African Security Police in 1962. That was a decision arrived at consciously by myself and Comrade Nomzamo in the full knowledge that it spelt the end of life as family for the foreseeable future. After my conviction in November 1962 I was incarcerated for twenty seven years until my release on February 11th, 1990.
During both my trials, the first in 1962 and during the Rivonia trial of 1964, Comrade Nomzamo was a key figure in mobilising solidarity and support for myself and the other Rivonia trialists alongside other members of the ANC and its allies. During the two decades I spent on Robben Island she was an indispensable pillar of support and comfort to myself personally. She also became the international focus of the campaign in solidarity with the all South African political prisoners. As such, she earned the ire of the National Party government which lost no opportunity to harass, persecute, arrest, detain and charge her. This culminated in her banishment from Johannesburg to Brandfort in the OFS.
Comrade Nomzamo accepted the onerous burden of raising our children on her own. She was more fortunate than other single mothers in that she enjoyed the moral and material support of both the South African and the international community. She endured the persecutions heaped upon her by the government with exemplary fortitude and never wavered from her commitment to the struggle for freedom. Her tenacity reinforced my personal respect, love and growing affection. It also attracted the admiration of the world at large. My love for her remains undiminished.
However, in view of the tensions that have arisen owing to differences between ourselves on a number of issues in recent months, we have mutually agreed that a separation would be best for each of us. My action was not prompted by the current allegations being made against her in the media. I deeply regret the role that the media has assumed in this regard and would once again urge that the issue of her guilt or innocence be left to the judicial system to determine. Comrade Nomzamo has and can continue to rely on my unstinting support during these trying moments in her life.
I shall personally never regret the life Comrade Nomzamo and I tried to share together.
Circumstances beyond our control however dictated that it should be otherwise. I part from my wife with no recriminations. I embrace with all the love and affection I have nursed for her inside and outside prison from the moment I first met her.
Nelson R. Mandela.
13th April 1992.