South Africa paid tribute to Winnie Mandela’s “fighting spirit” as plans were made to mark the life of the firebrand anti-apartheid campaigner and Nelson Mandela’s former wife.
She died in a Johannesburg hospital at the age of 81 on Monday after suffering a long illness that failed to rob of her of the charisma and energy that defined her sometimes divisive character.
Mourners continued to gather at her Soweto home to honour the anti-apartheid fighter after President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that a memorial service would be held on Wednesday April 11 and a full state funeral on Saturday April 14.
The outspoken leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party Julius Malema, who became a confidante of Winnie in recent years, is expected to visit her modest two-storey red brick home on Tuesday.
The EFF paid tribute to Winnie’s “fighting spirit” following news of her death. “She affirmed both the love and anger of black people; always committed to their right to defend their lives even (with) arms in the face of a deadly apartheid evil,” the radical leftist party said in a statement.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party’s Women’s League, which Winnie once led, will stage a mass march to her home on Wednesday.
Winnie, 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.
After her death was announced, Ramaphosa described her as “a voice of defiance and resistance” who “was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free”. – AFP