'All South Africans are indebted to Mama Winnie' - Nelson Mandela Foundation
03 April 2018, 02:47 | Kristine Mills
Winnie Mandela: Anti-apartheid icon no more
During her ex-husband's 27-year imprisonment for his fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and the rights of black South Africans despite being arrested and banished by the apartheid government and constant harassment by security police.
With or without Nelson, Winnie built her own role as a tough, glamourous and outspoken black activist with a loyal grassroots following in the segregated townships.
After their separation she kept his surname and they maintained ties, leading to critics accusing her of attempting to use his name for political mileage.
She vowed she had no part in the murders, when appearing before Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, and she was later given a fine. "In the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who endured and won, we see plainly what our freedom cost", Uhuru said. He was married at the time to Evelyn Mase but the marriage was breaking up.
Other allegations of wrongdoing followed her until her final year. Mandela was eventually released in 1990.
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".
In 2016‚ she was conferred with the 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.
The execution was carried on by the so-called Mandela United Football Club, a vigilante gang that claimed to be her bodyguard.
In 1985, she defied government orders and returned to her Soweto home after her Brandfort house was firebombed.
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She completed university, a rarity for black women at the time, and became the first qualified social worker at Johannesburg's Baragwanath Hospital. At one rally she controversially seemed to endorse their use. The most serious of which, in 1991 when Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting a 14-year-old boy because he was suspected of being an informer.
But Mrs Madikizela-Mandela - an icon of the struggle - also found herself mired in controversy.
Ms Madikizela-Mandela was married to Mr Mandela from 1958 to 1996.
Her bodyguards were accused of the disappearances and killings of at least 18 boys and young men.
Mandela, approaching 40 and the father of three, declared on their first date that he would marry her. Her husband and his party, the African National Congress (ANC), opposed these practices.
Just a day before she died, Madikizela-Mandela had celebrated Easter in Soweto, Bishop Gary Rivas told reporters gathered at the Netcare Milpark Hospital. "And he shed tears to say that 'we have made a decision to separate.' He loved her to the end".
By then her life had begun to unravel.
She would later clash with him and become political patron of the youth leader Julius Malema. Both of them spent 38 years together.
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