South African Anti-Apartheid Activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Dies

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Antiapartheid Campaigner and Former Wife of Nelson Mandela, Dies at 81

After her death was announced, Ramaphosa described her as "a voice of defiance and resistance" who "was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free". "Winnie is someone I respect highly", Machel once said. "We married in June of 1958, and by September he was already in jail", Winnie Mandela said in an interview.

At the ANC conference in 2007, she was elected to the party's top decision-making body, the National Executive Committee, and in the 2009 general election, she was placed fifth on the list of ANC MPs nominated for parliament, in a clear sign that then-President Jacob Zuma saw her as an electoral asset.

The apartheid police later harassed her, sometimes dragging her from bed at night without giving her a chance to make arrangements for her daughters. But they separated just two years later and divorced in 1996.

Even in her time as deputy minister she openly criticized what she said was anti-social politics by the ANC.

Mandela, who died in 2013, was imprisoned throughout most of their marriage, and Madikizela-Mandela's own activism against white minority rule led to her being jailed for months and placed under house arrest for years.

USA equal rights campaigner Jesse Jackson said: "In the darkest hours of the struggle to free South Africa, with Nelson Mandela in prison, the face of hope and courage was Winnie Mandela".

For the 27 years which Mandela spent in the prisons at Robben Island, Pollsmoor and Victor Verster, Winnie campaigned tirelessly for his release - but seldom visited.

In 2001, a television camera caught Mbeki brushing Madikizela-Mandela away and knocking off her hat after she arrived an hour late for a rally to commemorate a 1976 anti-apartheid uprising by Soweto schoolchildren and students.

In her later years, Ms Madikizela-Mandela had frequent run-ins with authority that further undermined her reputation. "May her soul rest in peace".

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

"Together hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country", she said.

'The years of imprisonment hardened me, ' she said.

It was at her side, however, that Nelson Mandela finally left prison in 11 February 1990.

In May 1991 she was sentenced to six years in prison for kidnapping in relation to the incident, but the sentence was later reduced to a fine.

She formed the Mandela United Football Club, whose members served as her bodyguards in the face of her increasing following.

"She liked gardening - she used to come out to her garden".

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