Winnie Mandela: Soweto send-off for anti-apartheid fighter

Winnie Mandela: Soweto send-off for anti-apartheid fighter

"Praising we now that she is gone shows how hypocrites you are", said Dlamini-Mandela to loud applause for thousands of mourners in attendance. "In the face of exploitation, she was a champion of justice and equality".

Tens of thousands of South Africans have filled a stadium in Soweto for the funeral service of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a heroine of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa but also one of its most controversial figures.

"It is so disappointing to see how they withheld their words during my mother's lifetime, knowing very well what they would have meant to her".

She reminded the crowd that when her father‚ Nelson Mandela‚ was imprisoned‚ it was her mother who kept his name alive.

Zezani said Mandela's family took issue with how a former police commissioner mistreated Winnie only to tell the truth after her death.

For many South Africans, the most memorable image of Madikizela-Mandela is her punching the air in a clenched-fist salute as she walked hand-in-hand with Mandela out of Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, on February 11, 1990.

"The battle of our freedom was not some polite picnic‚" Zenani said.

She would find her way to the limelight again in 1996 following her divorce that marked the end of her 38 year old union with Nelson Mandela.

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Condolences poured in from around the world in remembrance of one of the 20th century's most prominent political activists. "I stand here to mourn my mother and to celebrate her life", she said.

"I appreciate many things about her. But even we were unprepared for the scale of the outpouring of love and personal testimonies from so many". The EFF leader brought the entire stadium (and internet) to a standstill as he delivered his tribute to Mama Winnie. In 1977, she was banished to a remote town to separate her from the heart of the movement she led in Soweto. The same people who sold you out?

Often called the "Mother of the Nation" and "Mama Winnie", Ms Madikizela-Mandela fought to keep South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle in the global spotlight while her husband, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned.

The casket draped with the multi-coloured South African flag was placed in the middle of the 37,500-seater stadium in front of a stage, decked in white and yellow flowers.

Although Madikizela-Mandela helped usher in a new, more equitable South African political system during her lifetime, she was also entangled in a number of scandals over the years.

Winnie Madikizela Mandela's death managed to unite different political parties who are often at odds with each other. "Funerals are about celebrating lives of who departed, it's about mourning", said Mantashe.

"There were times when people could not afford a funeral and she [Madikizela-Mandela] would assist", said Gloria Searole, a service consultant in Soweto.

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