'All South Africans are indebted to Mama Winnie' - Nelson Mandela Foundation

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela centre being sworn in as a member of parliament in 2014

I met "Mama Winnie", as she is fondly called, in the "Angola room" of the two-storied house.

Holomisa said he had worked closely with Madikizela-Mandela in the 1980s. That was in 1989.

The South African Broadcasting Corp. said she was admitted to the hospital over the weekend complaining of the flu after she attended a church service Friday. We had to wait for MK to return to SA, so we sent the Transkei defence force to guard him.

This led to her being dubbed the "Mother of the Nation". "She is ungovernable". That would be when she attacked his governance".

"I started to realise the abject poverty under which most people were forced to live, the appalling conditions created by the inequalities of the system", she said. "In the face of exploitation, she was a champion of justice and equality".

But she was a unifying force for some members of the ANC, and had this connection of not only being a national and worldwide figure, but also maintaining very close, personal ties, particularly in Soweto.

Graca Machel, who stepped into her shoes as South Africa's first lady when she married Mandela in 1998, paid tribute to her predecessor in the years after her union. "It is not only us as South Africans, but the continent as well as the global village, that have experienced a loss".

During her old age, she re-emerged as a respected elder who was feted as a living reminder of the late Mandela and of the long campaign against apartheid. "Her sacrifices, bravery and persecution contributed significantly to the securing of our freedom and democracy!"

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Confirming her support for Malema and his calls for seizure of white-owned farms and banks, Madikizela-Mandela revealed her contempt in 2010 for the deal her ex-husband struck with South Africa's white minority almost two decades before.

The newly freed Mr Mandela stood by his wife, urging friends to come to court to show their support, according to Ms Cachalia in her autobiography When Hope And History Rhyme.

Appearing at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up to unearth atrocities committed by both sides in the anti-apartheid struggle, Madikizela-Mandela refused to show remorse for abductions and murders carried out in her name.

In a tweet, the former Minister said Winnie was not just a hero but an inspiration to Africans and the world.

He said Madikizela-Mandela was for many years a defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid. Her husband was arrested in 1963 and convicted on treason charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists. Winnie joined the struggle against apartheid led by Mandela, she even worked as a hospital worker in the 1950s. "May she rest in peace and rise in glory".

Mandela, approaching 40 and the father of three, declared on their first date that he would marry her.

"The epitome of the struggle against inequalities, unemployment and poverty is no more", spokesperson Toko Xasa said. While many have postulated that it was an attempt on the part of the apartheid government to discredit Winnie (I certainly do) and have her wrongly imprisoned, others remain unconvinced and believe that she was responsible for Stompie's death.

"The struggle could never have been what it became without the undying zeal and passion of Mam' Winnie both for the country and our people".

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