The South African anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died, aged 81, her personal assistant confirmed. Her family said she died “peacefully” after a long illness.
They said she had been “in and out of hospital since the start of the year “In a statement, her family said: “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.” They urged supporters to celebrate the gift of her life.
Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was married to the late Nelson Mandela for nearly four decades until 1996.
He spent much of their marriage in prison, and she campaigned tirelessly for his release, eventually securing on 11 February 1990.