Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela Ex-Wife Dies At 81
The former wife of South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela is dead!
She died in a Johannesburg hospital on Monday, aged 81, after a long illness, family spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement.
Winnie Mandela, who was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, played a high-profile role in the struggle to end white-minority rule but her place in history was stained by controversy and accusations of violence.
“It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday,” said a statement issued by her family.
“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.”
Leading the tributes, anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu described Winnie Mandela as “a defining symbol” of the struggle against oppression.
“She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings and banishment,” he said.
“Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists.”
In the ruling African National Congress (ANC), head of policy Jeff Radebe described her as “an icon of the revolutionary struggle.”
Most of Winnie’s marriage to Nelson was spent apart, with Nelson imprisoned for 27 years, leaving her to raise their two daughters alone and to keep alive his political dream under the repressive white-minority regime.