Wife of former South African anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela, Winnie on is dead. She died on Monday at the age of 81, hereby triggering an outpouring of tributes to one of the country’s most diverse figure.
Winnie died in Johannesburg hospital after a long illness, according to a statement released by the family.
According to the family spokesman, Victor Diamini, “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.”
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.
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.”
The ruling African National Congress, ANC, also described her as “an icon of the revolutionary struggle”
She was spotted last month when shown in a television footage joking with the newly-appointed South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who paid a courtesy call at her home in Soweto, the township she lives for decades.
Dressed in full ANC colours of yellow, black and green, she asked Ramaphosa, who is known for his morning runs, “Why don’t you get tired?”
“We can’t get tired when you have given us work to do‚” Ramaphosa said, paying fulsome praise to her appearance.
She had also expressed support for the current leadership of the ANC (African National Congress) party — which her husband led to power in the euphoric post-apartheid elections of 1994.