Hailed as mother of the ‘new’ South Africa, Winnie Madikizela- Mandela died in Johannesburg yesterday aged 81.
She will be remembered as an anti-apartheid heroine.
In her twilight years, Madikizela-Mandela had frequent run-ins with authority that further undermined her reputation as a fighter against the white-minority regime that ran Africa’s most advanced economy from 1948 to 1994.
During her husband’s 27-year incarceration, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned tirelessly for his release and for the rights of black South Africans, suffering years of detention, banishment and arrest by the white authorities.
She remained steadfast and unbowed throughout, emerging to punch the air triumphantly in the clenched-fist salute of black power as she walked hand-in-hand with Mandela out of Cape Town’s Victor Vester prison on February 11 1990.
For husband and wife, it was a crowning moment that led four years later to the end of centuries of white domination when Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.
But, for Madikizela- Mandela, the end of apartheid marked the start of a string of legal and political troubles that, accompanied by tales of her glamorous living, kept her in the spotlight.
She and Mandela separated in 1992 and her reputation slipped further when he sacked her from his cabinet in 1995 after allegations of corruption. The couple divorced a year later, after which she adopted the surname Madikizela-Mandela.
Born on September 26 1936, in Bizana, Eastern Cape province, Madikizela-Mandela became politicised at an early age in her job as a hospital social worker.