South Africa to hold state funeral for Winnie Mandela

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*Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

As NMA says she was a significant pillar to South Africa’s emancipation

South Africa was in mourning after the death of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, aged 81, for whom a state funeral will be held in two weeks time.

“Hundreds of red-clad supporters of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters marched to Madikizela-Mandela’s home in the Johannesburg township of Soweto on Tuesday to pay homage to “the Mother of the Nation,’’ television footage showed.

Julius Malema, who heads the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was once a staunch member of the ruling African National Congress party, to which Nelson Mandela and his ex-wife Madikizela-Mandela belonged, but remained friends with the latter after quitting to form his own party.

Malema visited the home in Soweto, lauding Madikizela-Mandela’s contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle, and noting that the EFF, unlike the ANC, were “never ashamed of her.”

Madikizela-Mandela was a controversial figure, at one time afforded heroine status for her courage during Mandela’s 27-year incarceration, but later demonised for how far she was prepared to go in the struggle for liberation.

She was at Mandela’s side when he emerged triumphantly from prison.

He went on to become president in 1994.

The couple divorced in 1996 after almost four decades of marriage.

She however, retained a huge grassroots following and politicians and celebrities around the world have expressed sadness over her death.

Cyril Ramaphosa has said a memorial service will be held for Madikizela-Mandela on April 11, and a state funeral will take place in Johannesburg on April 14.

Meanwhile, the caretaker chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja chapter, Mrs. Princess Frank-Chukwuani, on Tuesday described the late Winnie Mandela as a “significant pillar” who contributed immensely to South Africa’s emancipation.

Frank-Chukwuani made the remarks in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

The South African anti-apartheid activist, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, died peacefully on Monday aged 81, following a long illness.

“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year,” Victor Dlamini, a family spokesman said in a statement.

Frank-Chukwuani described Winnie as a Colossus, saying she was a courageous woman who would be remembered and cherished for her defiant role in the struggle and liberation of South Africans against apartheid.

“Whether you like her or not, she remains a role model to most women in Africa as she conquered most of the challenges and betrayals she faced in her life with utmost selflessness, putting her people first before herself.

“As human, she made mistakes, but was still respected as a significant Pillar of the new South Africa. May God grant her soul eternal rest and may perpetual light shine upon her,” she said.

Also commenting, Mrs. Ireti Ade-Oyinleye, the President, Complete Woman Foundation, said that the late Winnie Mandela fought and stood for what she believed in.

Ade-Oyinleye said that the late South African anti-apartheid heroine was a courageous woman.

“Although, she had her ‘dark sides’, but she would not be forgotten for the role she played in the fight against apartheid in South Africa,” she said.

Winnie, born on Sept. 26, 1936,  was the ex-wife of the late South African President, Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5, 2013.

(Dpa/NAN)

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