Winnie Mandela, who was once the wife of South Africa’s revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday April 2, at the age of 81.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, remembered by many South Africans as an anti-apartheid campaigner, died at a Johannesburg hospital yesterday afternoon, according to a recorded statement released to media by the family spokesperson.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was a revered figure in the ruling ANC party for her role in fighting Apartheid.
She, along with her former husband Nelson Mandela, were both jailed, although she was released much earlier than her husband but continued to oppose the white supremacist leadership.
Winnie Mandela’s shining reputation was however later tainted by cases of corruption and human rights abuses.
The Sun newspaper of UK reports for example that in 1991, she was convicted over the kidnapping and assault of Stompie Moeketsi, a teenage activist who was murdered by a member of her controversial bodyguards, known as the Mandela United Football Club.
Winnie always denied the allegation, and the six-year prison term she received was reduced to a fine and suspended sentence on appeal.
Born Namzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela on September 26, 1936 on Pondoland, present day Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, Winnie met lawyer and activist Nelson Mandela in 1957 and were both married a year later. They had two daughters together before his arrest and imprisonment in 1963.
She stayed married to the future President throughout his 27 years in prison, becoming one of the most prominent opponents of apartheid during the final years before his release in 1990.They separated two years after Mandela’s release.
Winnie’s death has attracted glowing tributes from South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa as well as renowned Bishop Desmond Tutu. They and several other leaders in South Africa described her as mother of the nation.