Winnie Mandela, the wife of black leader Nelson Mandela, was formally charged with four counts of assault and kidnapping Monday in a case stemming from the 1989 death of a 14-year-old anti-apartheid activist.

Magistrate T.F. Veldman delayed the trial date until next February.Winnie Mandela, 56, wearing a dark blue suit and a white blouse, was accompanied to the magistrate's court in her home township of Soweto by her husband and dozens of supporters for the hourlong court appearance, during which her name was added to a list of seven others accused in the case.

Prosecutors had earlier indicated she would be charged in the case.

Mandela appeared calm while standing in the dock with three of the others accused, while her husband sat stern-faced in the front row of the gallery.

Mrs. Mandela was not asked to enter a plea, and she remained free on her own recognizance pending trial.

The court session was expected merely to formalize the charges against Mrs. Mandela and endorse the transfer for trial to the Rand Supreme Court in Johannesburg, but quickly bogged down in argument over the trial date.

The attorney general's recommendation for the trial to start Oct. 20 was strenuously opposed by Mrs. Mandela's attorney, Ismail Ayob.

The magistrate approved Ayob's request for a trial date of Feb. 4, 1991, after accepting argument in favor of a delay.

Ayob had said an October trial provided him insufficient time to prepare for the case and noted Mrs. Mandela would be accompanying her husband on an overseas trip on the "invitation of a foreign government."

Ayob said "a grave prejudice" would have been suffered by Mrs. Mandela had the trial gone ahead on Oct. 20.