Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
Research | By Francis Brooks

Anti-apartheid icon Madikizela-Mandela is buried

Anti-apartheid icon Madikizela-Mandela is buried

The special state official funeral was held at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday, following the 81-year old's passing in hospital on April 2.

Thousands of mourners gathered in South Africa's Soweto township on Saturday to bid farewell to anti-apartheid-heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in a funeral-ceremony that united the nation as people from various political-divides celebrated her life. Mourners followed her coffin in procession into the stadium, where the funeral began with the singing of the national anthem.

In defence of her late mother, Zenani observed that while Winnie was expected to uphold and display high moral standards, the same was not expected of her male counterparts.

Also in attendance of Winnie's funeral was the civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

"It was my mother who kept his (Nelson Mandela's) memory alive", said a teary Zenani. Apartheid authorities sought to denigrate her with bitter and twisted lies, but still she rose.

Her remains, in 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.

"It is hard to accept that she is no longer with us", cried her daughter Zenani Dlamini, "because she was always so strong". "She was one of us". The notable ones were mainly the ruling African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters. "All those who resigned from the women's NEC [national executive committee], who said they don't want to be led by a criminal, are here", he said. "Till death, you knew who your enemy was: racial domination, class exploitation, gender oppression".

They were married for a total of 38 years but for nearly three decades of that time, they were separated by Mr Mandela's long imprisonment. While Mandela was imprisoned at Robben Island, she became his voice, providing regular updates to followers hungry for every detail. They could not silence her.

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Also present at the funeral service were former presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, dignitaries from African countries and celebrities such as British supermodel Naomi Campbell and US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

She provided leadership at the most hard periods and sought no reward. She warned the "hypocrites" who hid the truth and marginalised her mother. Many sung liberation struggle songs, Xinhua news agency reported.

The funeral closes the final chapter in the history of a woman who was exalted for her fearless defiance of apartheid rule but also implicated in violence and corruption in later life.

Grandson Zondwa Mandela spoke of everyday heroes and said her spirit lives on in women who strive to carve out a livelihood.

Outside Africa, she was known largely because of her one-time husband, but in South Africa she was the mouthpiece and face of the bitter struggle against the racist regime.

In 1991, she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault, but her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a two-year suspended sentence on appeal.

Some ANC members started attempts to drown out Malema by booing and singing, but he continued and called on Soweto residents to never forget her name. But because she had such a big heart, my mother could also love the community where she lived, no matter where that was.

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