South Africa's Mother of the Nation dead at 81

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – Tributes are flooding in for South Africa’s “Mother of the Nation” Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who died on Monday afternoon following a long illness. She was 81.

Her death at a Johannesburg’s Milpark Hospital was confirmed by her personal assistant, Zodwa Zwane. Madikizela-Mandela who suffered from diabetes and recently underwent several major surgeries has been in poor health for several months.

President Cyril Ramaphosa who addressed the nation on Monday evening said “she was the voice of the voiceless…we have lost a mother, a comrade and a leader.” He added that "she was a symbol of resistance against apartheid”.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Madikizela-Mandela was a defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid for many years.

"She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, banning and banishment. Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists. May she rest in peace and rise in glory,” he said.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation also expressed its sorrow, saying “South Africans are indebted to her, whether they acknowledge it or not”.

The official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said it is a deeply sad occasion for South Africa. “This was someone who has run an incredible race. It is not only us as South Africans, but the continent as well as the global village, that have experienced a loss,” said DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

In 1958, Madikizela-Mandela married anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. They remained married for 38 years and had two children together. In 1963, Mandela was imprisoned following the Rivonia Trial; where she became his public face during the 27 years he spent in jail.

During that period, she rose to prominence in the anti-apartheid movement. She was arrested and detained by state security services on various occasions and spent several months in solitary confinement.

Nelson Mandela was released from prison on 11 February 1990, and the couple separated in 1992 but remained officially married until their divorce was finalised in March 1996. The couple remained in contact, and she visited him regularly before he died.
-0- PANA CU/AR 2April2018

02 avril 2018 18:47:30

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