Winnie Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner, dies

Posted April 03, 2018

She holds his hand with her right hand; her left hand is clenched into a fist and raised into the air. "In the face of exploitation, she was a champion of justice and equality". Though when she married Mr. Mandela she was not politically minded, she quickly assumed the nationalist posture while he during his 27 year incarceration. "She was not only an inspiration‚ but she also touched the lives of many millions of South Africans during the dark days of apartheid‚" he said. She was 24 years old at the time and became Mandela's second wife.

"Today we have lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a comrade, a leader and an icon", said Ramaphosa, who was expected to visit the family home later on Monday.

"I didn't know how hard the path was going to be that was lying ahead of me". Within a short space of time, Winnie Mandela was back at it, mobilizing people within the community.

At his funeral, in December 2013, she appeared by his coffin in mourning black - positioning herself nearly as if she were the grieving first lady - even though Mr. Mandela had married Graça Machel, the widow of the former Mozambican president Samora Machel, in 1998, on his 80th birthday, six years after separating from Ms. Madikizela-Mandela and two years after their divorce.

Winnie Mandela started feeling the pressure too.

They had two children together. And she also grew more isolated from the party during Jacob Zuma's tenure. In 1969, she was detained and spent 491 days in solitary confinement at the Pretoria Central Prison.

But her reputation got tarnished in the late 80s.

As evidence emerged in the dying years of apartheid of the brutality of her Soweto enforcers, the "Mandela United Football Club", her soubriquet switched from "Mother" of the nation to "Mugger".

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe expressed condolences on behalf of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and urged those who loved her to celebrate her. A few members were accused to be involved in torture, rape and murder.

Some have even claimed Mandikizela-Mandela killed the boy herself.

Winnie was born September 26, 1936, in the village of Mbongweni in what is now Eastern Cape.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died at the age of 81.

George Bizos, a human rights lawyer who represented Nelson Mandela at the 1960s trial that led to his long imprisonment, recalled how the marriage broke down. "It was the best marriage I ever had", she often said.

They divorced in 1996 amid rumours that Winnie Mandela had an affair.

In 1965, restrictions became even tougher with Winnie not allowed to move beyond her neighbourhood in Orlando West, Johannesburg.

With or without Nelson, Winnie built her own role as a tough, glamourous and outspoken black activist with a loyal grassroots following in the segregated townships.

As the years passed and Madikizela-Mandela's public standing plummeted, her relationship with the party she loved soured. In 1991‚ she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to the assault of Stompie Seipei‚ a young activist who was killed by one of her bodyguards. Many South Africans admire her for that. In 2009 and 2014 she was voted into the national assembly. She chose to remain in South Africa, living in Brandfort for eight years where she continued to spread political ideology among locals. "But look what came out", she said. That is what Winnie Mandela provided for the millions of people in our country. He did not mention his former wife in his last will.