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Pimples: Saving Madiba's rabbit (video)
Gwede, Mac and Blade try their best to stop the rabbit from whispering in Mandela's ear. But the elusive animal has some tricks up its sleeve.

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Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
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More than a trial: It's courtroom drama
ls it Winnie Mandela who is on trial or has her case expanded to become state versus African National Congress? Emma Gilbey reports.
More than a trial: It's courtroom drama
More than a trial: It's courtroom drama

Before the trial began, both the African National Congress and the state took pains to say that it was just Winnie Mandela and her co-accused 'who were facing charges, not the entire liberation movement. But consider the events surrounding the opening of the kidnapping and assault trial at the beginning of the week.

Day One. Four of the seven defendants, Mandela, John Morgan, Xoliswa Falati and her daughter, Mompumelelo, arrive at court. So does Mandela's husband, deputy ANC president Nelson Mandela. Fair enough. So does South African Communist Party head Joe Slovo, Umkhonto weSizwe head Chris Hani, ANC secretary-general Alfred Nzo, Cosatu leader Jay Naidoo, member of the ANC's Eastern Transvaal regional executive Reagan Shope, United Democratic Front executive member Popo Molefe and Mandela biographer Fatima Meer.

A bench is kept free for the leadership. Members of the press pack the two benches in front, spectators wearing ANC colours pack the two benches at the back. By the end of the day, hundreds of ANC supporters jostle with reporters and photographers to catch a glimpse of the Mandelas as they leave court. Fists are raised, Viva! is cried out, police are present, the Mandelas are mobbed as marshals escort them to their car-- it could be any match, any stadium event, any piece of mass action anywhere.

Day Two. This time, uniformed ANC marshals control access to the courtroom. Mandela and three co-accused arrive at court. So does Nelson Mandela, ANC national executive member John Nkadimeng and PWV regional chairman Kgalema Motlanthe. Less leadership today, but more rank-and-file, especially outside the courthouse where the jostling with the press is a little less friendly than the day before.

"If any of the press get in your way just push them," instructs the marshals leader, identifying himself only as Sam. The ugliness increases at lunchtime as the crowd spills into the street, following the Mandelas stately processing from the court to their lawyers' offices (cheers, toyi-toying, ululating, placards, chants).

The police issue a one minute ' warning. One minute passes. The police baton-charge the crowd much to the delight of photographers and camera crews who have been waiting all morning in the hot sun for an event just like this. The charge makes the evening news as well as front page headlines and pictures in various newspapers the next day. It's very different inside the courtroom once the court is in session.

Nelson Mandela might be present but somehow sitting in the public gallery diminishes his stature and he becomes just another elderly spectator. The real stars are the judge, Mr Justice MS Stegmann, leading advocate for the prosecution, Jan Swanepoel, and senior counsel for the Mandela George Bizos. John Morgan and the Falatis have their own counsels, Hendrik Kruger and Henti Joubert respectively, but it's Bizos and company who hold the spotlight.

Swanepoel and Bizos crack jokes at each other. "We have acted against each other and been friendly for a long time," said Swanepoel, smiling broadly at Bizos at one point. Bizos has a good sense of the theatrical, and the court perks up as he heaves himself to his feet. He likes the sound of his own voice -- and uses it well.

"What your lordship has been asked to do," he said, as he began to wrap up his argument to quash the indictments, "is to adopt the most benevolent possible wide interpretation of the dribs and drabs (here his voice dripped with scorn) the state has managed to put together in three or four documents ... for the purpose of saving their indictment."

It didn't work, of course -- but it was a nice try. Stegmann ruled that the defence did, for the most part, have enough information to prepare a case. Just to make sure there could be no misunderstanding, he read out what his understanding of what the state's case was, a detailed and crystal clear summary. Stegmann, Swanepoel and Bizos might be the male leads in this courtroom drama but there is no doubt as to the leading lady.

Winnie Mandela appears in court with the poise and savoir-faire of a great leader about to greet foreign dignitaries. She chats a lot and laughs a lot as site waits for proceedings to begin. Sometimes she laughs very loudly, and then those around her laugh very loudly too. Only at the last minute does she go and sit in the dock. It's a bizarre juxtaposition.

One moment everybody is being gracious and polite, making cocktail party small talk. The next minute the room is divided between protagonists and spectators at a trial for kidnapping and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Charges include hitting, punching, kicking, trampling, lifting and dropping the victims to the floor and whipping.

The case continues.