Winnie Mandela testified Tuesday that she was hundreds of miles away on social work when four youths were allegedly abducted and beaten at her home in Soweto.

Mandela, testifying for the first time in her kidnap and assault trial, said she was away from home for two days when the assault allegedly took place. She said she met with large numbers of people in the town of Brandfort during the time in question.Mandela, dressed in a white suit, was largely expressionless as she gave short, flat answers to her lawyer during three hours of questioning.

Mandela, Xoliswa Falati and John Morgan face eight counts of kidnapping and assault charges.

Prosecutors charge the three abducted four black youths in December 1988 and beat them at Man-dela's home. The state says the four were abducted because it was believed they were homosexuals or police spies.

Winnie Mandela, the wife of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, and her co-defendants pleaded not guilty. Mrs. Mandela has said she tried to protect the four young men from sexual abuse at a Methodist Church home where they lived but knew nothing about an abduction or assaults.

One of the four young men, Stom-pie Seipei, was later killed. Mrs. Mandela's former bodyguard, Jerry Richardson, was convicted last year of the killing.

Mrs. Mandela said Mrs. Falati came to her in December 1988 and said one of the boys at the church home had been sexually abused by the white minister, Rev. Paul Verryn.

Mrs. Mandela said she was surprised because she had been told before of alleged homosexual abuse at the church home and had reported it to the church authorities.

"He was very shocked. He found it difficult to speak to me," she said.

She and Mrs. Falati took the youth to a doctor, who said he had not been raped but was in need of psychological attention.