Tributes paid to Winnie Mandela, controversial ‘mother’ of South Africa
Madikizela-Mandela, who remained married to husband Nelson Mandela during his decades-long imprisonment, died peacefully surrounded by family in the early hours of Monday morning. A long illness had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year, according to family spokesman Victor Dlamini.
"There is no longer anything I can fear." - Winnie Mandela.— Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) April 2, 2018
Rest in Peace, mama. pic.twitter.com/xfPfdgxXK3
Winnie Mandela was a courageous trailblazer whose notable role in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa and liberate its people of colour cannot be forgotten.— Bukola Saraki (@bukolasaraki) April 2, 2018
We join all South Africans and women across the world to mourn her passing. pic.twitter.com/tN5b9fBl95
"She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country," Dlamini said in a statement. "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 recognizable faces."
Rest in Power to one of the greatest women warriors for justice, our sister Winnie Mandela. ✊🏾✊🏾— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) April 2, 2018
We're devastated to learn the news of the passing of the Mother of our nation, one of the great architects of our liberation struggle, iqhawe lamaqhawe uMama #WinnieMandela. In our darkest hour she illuminated the torch of hope through her tireless commitment to freedom & justice pic.twitter.com/91RO3zrjx0— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) April 2, 2018
Madikizela-Mandela, dubbed “Mother of a Nation” by her supporters, campaigned tirelessly for her husband’s release both at home and abroad during his 27-year imprisonment. However, that period was a time of great turmoil, with increased violence giving way to the start of a long political entanglement with the apartheid regime.
She was jailed several times for her part in the fight against white-minority rule. 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. The boy’s body was later found in a field. He had suffered stab wounds to the throat. Her initial six-year jail term was reduced to a fine on appeal.
Rest in power, #WinnieMandela. You did your best in a maddening, impossible hell — one that broke, killed or oppressed millions. You kept fighting when others would have given up or given in. You won and lost everything. Only God can judge you now. #RIPwinniemadikizelamandela— Van Jones (@VanJones68) April 2, 2018
Parents to two children, the Mandelas separated in 1992 and divorced four years later after nearly four decades into their marriage. Their working relationship was severed in 1995. Madikizela Mandela’s reputation was further tarnished after she was fired from Mandela’s cabinet over allegations of corruption.
Controversies and lengthy legal battles aside Madikizela Mandela showed her continued resilience in a 2013 interview where she exclaimed that she would do it all again if she had to. “I am not sorry. I will never be sorry,” she said. “I would do everything I did again if I had to. Everything.”