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Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie, dies at 81 in Johannesburg

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 21, 2011, the youth leader of South Africa’s ruling party, Julius Malema (L) stands behind Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of South African icon Nelson Mandela, outside a court in Johannesburg following a trial over an anti-apartheid struggle song. Winnie Mandela, the ex-wife of South African anti-apartheid fighter and former president Nelson Mandela and high-profile anti-apartheid figure, died on April 2, 2018 in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness at the age of 81, her spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement. ALEXANDER JOE / AFP

• ‘She was a pride to all Africans’
Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, died yesterday.

According to a statement by a family spokesman, Victor Dlamini, Winnie died during a long illness in a Johannesburg hospital, surrounded by family and loved ones. She was 81 years old.

Like her late former husband, Winnie was an icon of South African anti-apartheid activism, who fought fiercely against white-minority rule and was jailed several times for her role.
She also campaigned vigorously for the release of her husband at home and abroad.

While Mandela was in prison, she was allowed to visit him rarely, and they were always divided by a glass screen.

In 1990, the world watched the couple walked hand-in- hand when Mandela walked out of prison a free man.

But Mrs. Mandela’s reputation became damaged shortly after.

First, she was accused of endorsing extra judicial killing known as “necklacing” and imposing terror in parts of Soweto in the late 1980s. “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country,” she was quoted to have said by other member of African National Congress (ANC).

Second, Winnie’s secret affairs with her bodyguard, Jerry Richardson, who also killed on her behalf, was revealed during a legal battle. She was convicted in 1991 of kidnapping and assaulting Stompie Seipei, whom she called a police informer.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the passing away of Mrs. Mandela, as a huge loss to Africa.

The president noted that she was a woman of uncommon determination, steadfastness and perseverance who held aloft the torch of the struggle against institutionalised discrimination even while her ex-husband was incarcerated.

President Buhari, on behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, yesterday commiserated with the family of the deceased, the government and people of South Africa, urging them to be consoled by the knowledge that the late Winnie Mandela’s contributions to ending apartheid would not be forgotten.

Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, also mourned the late Mrs. Mandela.


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