South Africa’s Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid campaigner and former wife of the late Nelson Mandela, has died aged 81.
- She died after a long illness, but attended Easter services over the weekend
- She and her husband were a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle for decades
- Her activism was marred by criminal convictions and allegations of corruption
She died following a long illness that had kept her in and out of hospital since the start of the year, her family said in a statement.
“She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country,” the statement said.
“She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to Ms Madikizela-Mandela in front of a crowd of hundreds gathered outside her home in Soweto.
“Winnie Mandela … leaves a huge legacy and, as we say in African culture, a gigantic tree has fallen,” he said.