Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela‚ revered in the fight against apartheid in South Africa‚ has died at the age of 81. Her Personal Assistant Zodwa Zwane‚ confirmed the struggle veteran’s death yesterday afternoon.
Madikizela-Mandela was former wife of South African freedom icon and first president of post-apartheid South Africa Nelson Mandela. The couple — famously pictured hand-in-hand as Mandela walked free from prison after 27 years —were a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle.
“It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa on Monday April 2‚ 2018. She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.
Born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in 1936‚ she moved to Johannesburg to study social work after matriculating. She met Mandela in 1957 and they were married a year later.
They had two children together. However‚ her marriage life with Mandela was short-lived‚ as he was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason.
Mandela was eventually released in 1990. Madikizela-Mandela was also placed under house arrest and at one time banished to Brandfort‚ a town in the Free State.
In 1969‚ she was detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in a condemned cell at Pretoria Central Prison before being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.
The couple divorced in 1996‚ 37 years after their marriage. Throughout the height of apartheid, Winnie remained at the forefront of the struggle, urging students in the Soweto uprising in 1976 to “fight to the bitter end”.
After the first democratic election in 1994‚ Madikizela-Mandela became an MP and was appointed deputy minister of arts and culture. She was fired by Mandela after an unauthorised trip to Ghana.
She had been an MP ever since‚ despite limited appearances in Parliament in the past few years. In 2016‚ she was conferred an Order of Luthuli in Silver during the National Orders Awards ceremony for her excellent contribution to the fight for the liberation of the people of South Africa. – Agency