Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Winnie Mandela - South Africa News Headlines

Winnie Mandela Passes Away

Winnie Mandela (Winnie Madikizela-Mandela), an anti-apartheid stalwart and wife to Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned on Robben Island, died on Monday, her personal assistant Zodwa Zwane said. She was 81. The apartheid icon has been ill for a number of years and was most recently admitted to Milpark Hospital due to an infection affecting her kidneys. The last time the stalwart was in a hospital was in October 2017 for a knee surgery, which she had a full recovery from.

During her ex-husband’s 27-year imprisonment for his fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and the rights of black South Africans, undergoing arrest and banishment. White minority rule ended in 1994.

Her PA‚ Zodwa Zwane‚ confirmed the struggle veteran’s death on Monday afternoon.

“It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa on Monday April 2‚ 2018.

She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones,” the family said in a statement today.

The family will release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.

Born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in 1936‚ she moved to Johannesburg to study social work after matriculating.

She met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957 and they were married a year later. They had two children together.

However‚ her marriage life with Mandela was short-lived‚ as he was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Mandela was eventually released in 1990.

During Mandela’s time in prison‚ Madikizela-Mandela was not spared the reach of the apartheid forces. She was placed under house arrest and at one time banished to Brandfort‚ a town in the Free State.

In 1969‚ Madikizela-Mandela became one of the first detainees under Section 6 of the notorious Terrorism Act of 1967. She was detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in a condemned cell at Pretoria Central Prison before being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Headline Stories
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s marriage to Nelson Mandela and her anti-apartheid activism ensured many South Africans saw her as “the mother of the nation”, but her past was littered with dark controversies.

Born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela, and always known simply as “Winnie”, she was married to Nelson for 38 years — one of the most storied romances of modern history.

Most of their marriage was spent apart, with Nelson imprisoned for 27 years, leaving her to raise their two daughters alone and to keep alive his political dream under the repressive white-minority regime.

In 1990 the world watched when Nelson Mandela finally walked out of prison — hand in hand with Winnie.

But they separated just two years later and divorced in 1996 after a legal wrangle that revealed her affair with a young bodyguard.

With or without Nelson, Winnie built her own role as a tough, glamourous and outspoken black activist with a loyal grassroots following in the segregated townships.

“From every situation I have found myself in, you can read the political heat in the country,” she said in a biography.

Winnie was born September 26, 1936, in the village of Mbongweni in what is now Eastern Cape.

She completed university, a rarity for black women at the time, and became the first qualified social worker at Johannesburg’s Baragwanath Hospital.

It was her political awakening, especially her research work in Alexandra township on infant mortality, which found 10 deaths in every 1,000 births.

“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.

Hounded by police
Nelson Mandela, who was then married to his first wife, met Winnie at a bus stop in Soweto when she was 22.

They wed in June 1958, but he soon went underground, pursued by the apartheid authorities.

In October that year, Winnie was arrested for the first time at a protest by women against the pass system that restricted movements of black people in white-designated areas.

After Nelson was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, Winnie was also in and out of jail as the police hounded her in a bid to demoralise him.

Government security forces tortured her, tried locking her up, confined her to Johannesburg’s Soweto township, and then banished her to the desolate town of Brandfort, where her house was bombed twice.

She was allowed to visit her husband in prison rarely, and they were always divided by a glass screen.

Linked to ‘necklacing’
Throughout the height of apartheid, Winnie remained at the forefront of the struggle, urging students in the Soweto uprising in 1976 to “fight to the bitter end”.

But in the 1980s, the militant-martyr began to be seen as a liability for Mandela and the liberation movement.

She had surrounded herself with a band of vigilante bodyguards called the Mandela United Football Club, who earned a terrifying reputation for violence.

Winnie was widely linked to “necklacing”, when suspected traitors were burnt alive by a petrol-soaked car tyre being put over their head and set alight.

Her notoriety was reinforced by a speech in 1986 when she declared that “with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.”

‘Something went horribly wrong’
In 1991, Winnie was convicted of kidnapping and assault over the killing of Stompie Moeketsi, a 14-year-old boy.

Moeketsi, who was accused being an informer, was murdered by her bodyguards in 1989.

Her jail sentence was reduced to a fine, and she denied involvement in any murders when she appeared before Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.

“She was a tremendous stalwart of our struggle, and icon of liberation — something went wrong, horribly, badly wrong,” Tutu said as damning testimony implicated her.

She served as a deputy minister in President Mandela’s government, but was sacked for insubordination and eased out of the top ranks of the ruling party.

After a 2003 conviction for fraud, she later rehabilitated her political career winning a seat in parliament in 2009 elections.

But her bitterness emerged in 2010 newspaper interview, saying: “Mandela let us down. He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks.”

She also called Tutu a “cretin” and the reconciliation process a “charade”, though she later claimed the quotes were never meant to be published

Despite it all, she was a regular visitor travelling from Soweto — where she still lived — to Mandela’s bedside in his final months, and she said she was present when he died.

He did not leave her anything in his will.

At her lavish 80th birthday party in Cape Town, Madikizela-Mandela wore a sparkling white dress and beamed with pleasure as she was lauded by guests that included senior politicians from rival parties.

“Mama Winnie has lived a rich and eventful life, whose victories and setbacks have traced the progress of the struggle of our people for freedom,” then vice president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is now president, told guests.

– AFP

You Care About This Story? Share or Comment

Fact Check: We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you discover something that does not look right here, contact us at Politicoscope. Do you have a story for publication? Send it now for free publication here on Politicoscope.

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
Notify of