JOHANNESBURG – Struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has passed away at the age of 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.
The former South African first lady was born in the village of Mbongweni, Bizana, in the Transkei.
The Mandela family issued a statement on Monday, stating, “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 2 April 2018.
“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of the hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.
“Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against Apartheid. She fought valiantly against the Apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to Apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions, eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.
“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 recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother Of The Nation.
“The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing, we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.”
The family said it would release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.