South African icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passes away

Anti-Apartheid Activist, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dies

Anti-apartheid activist and former wife of the later President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has passed away at the age of 81.

The Mandela family issued a statement yesterday, March 2, announcing she had passed away, at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.

Madikizela-Mandela has been struggling with illness, which has left her in and out of hospital, since the beginning of the year. She died peacefully surrounded by family and friends.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela , Newcastillian
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela with Julius Malema and Cyril Ramaphosa.

 

Born in Bizana, Eastern Cape, in 1936, her journey into the political world began when she moved to Johannesburg to study social work after matriculating. It was there that she met  Nelson Mandela in 1957. The couple married in 1958 and had two children together. However, their marriage was short-lived as Mandela was arrested in 1963. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason.

During Mandela’s time in prison, Madikizela-Mandela faced her own battles with the apartheid forces. She was put in house arrest and was even banished to Brandfort at one stage of her life.

While an ardent fighter against apartheid, she was also surrounded by controversy. This involved the scandal revolving around the death of Stompie Moeketsi. The incident took place in December 1988, when her body guards kidnapped four boys from another anti-apartheid party. Moeketsi was unfortunately murdered.

She was sentenced to six years in prison for her role in the kidnapping in May 1991. However, her sentence was reduced to a fine. She quickly bounced back, when she was elected as president of the ANC’s Women’s League in 1993.

Madikizela-Mandela will forever be remembered for her fiery personality that helped lead South Africans to democracy.

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