Former President John Dramani Mahama has eulogised the late anti-apartheid campaigner and former First Lady of South Africa, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died aged 81 on Monday after a long illness.
Family spokesman Victor Dlamini confirmed earlier on Monday that Mrs Mandela “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Mr. Mahama said Winnie Mandela “will be remembered for her active fight on the side of Nelson Mandela and his compatriots against apartheid.”
“Sad to note the passing of yet another African icon. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela served her nation, South Africa, her people and Africa well. She will be remembered for her active fight on the side of Nelson Mandela and his compatriots against apartheid.
“Growing up, we were inspired by her strength in continuing the struggle while Mandela and his colleagues were incarcerated. A bold fighter and champion of female empowerment, Winnie will be kindly remembered and celebrated for centuries.
“I had the privilege of meeting Winnie in her later years in Soweto, and she remained passionate about the ideals of Pan Africanism.
“At this moment we join in solidarity with the Government and people of South Africa, and all freedom fighters across the world to mourn her passing,” Mr. Mahama said in a Facebook post.
Madikizela-Mandela and her former husband Nelson Mandela, who were both jailed, were a symbol of the country’s anti-apartheid struggle for three decades.
However, in later years her reputation became tainted legally and politically.
Crowds of mourners and political figures flocked to her home in Soweto, in Johannesburg, after news of her death broke.
Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was born in 1936 in the Eastern Cape – then known as Transkei.
She was a trained social worker when she met her future husband in the 1950s. They went on to have two daughters together.
They were married for a total of 38 years, although for almost three decades of that time they were separated due to Mr Mandela’s long imprisonment.
It was Mrs Madikizela-Mandela who took his baton after he was jailed for life, becoming an international symbol of resistance to apartheid. She too was jailed for her role in the fight for justice and equality.
To her supporters, she became known affectionately as “Mother of the Nation”.