South Africa declares 10 days of mourning for Madikizela-Mandela

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"She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones". Madikizela-Mandela had strong feminist instincts. Winnie Mandela's own activism against white minority rule led to her being jailed for months and placed under house arrest for years.

Defending Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's legacy has become a rallying call for South African politicians keen to tap into her radical, uncompromising image that now resonates with many young black voters. Her reputation was muddied by scandal, however, including a 1991 conviction for kidnapping and assault.

"We take this moment to send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to both the Madikizela and Mandela families as we mourn the mother of the ANCWL who led the ANCWL during the most hard times of our country and ANC most trying times of our country when all the odds were against her‚" the league said. She fought valiantly against apartheid and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the people.

"Tommy (her husband, Tommy Cowan) had bought the book while he was on tour, he penned the song, and he gave me the book which I read from cover to cover, and then inspiration took over", she said.

But in death, her chequered record has largely been forgiven in South Africa, with the president declaring 12 days of mourning and the government accusing her critics of pushing an "apartheid-era narrative". She took on the role of mourner in chief - grieving for a husband who was imprisoned while giving voice to the pain of black South Africans and articulating their daily losses.

Further details will be announced as arrangements are finalized in consultation between the government and the family of Ms Madikizela-Mandela, Mr Ramaphosa said.

Graça Machel has penned an emotional tribute to her "big sister", Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, saying that she is struggling to accept her death. She had been hospitalised at the weekend. Instead of collapsing, as others might have, the woman who was the first black medical social worker in the country became a powerful spokesperson for racial justice. Her two daughters, Zenani and Zindzi, were both just a few years old. But by 1960, Mandela had gone underground. She challenged patriarchy not only in words but also in deeds, and she suffered for it but seemed never to worry too much about how she was perceived by her opponents.

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He told local media that she was "an outstanding activist", but that she had made major mistakes when she ran the notoriously brutal gang called the "Mandela United Football Club". More recently, she spoke out against official corruption.

"The nation was ill-prepared for her departure and people are grieving very deeply". She lives and the struggle continues until total victory. In an infamous 1986 speech she threatened "no more peaceful protests". It was a reference to the practice of killing suspected informers by placing a petrol-soaked tyre round their necks and setting it alight.

"Together hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country", she said.

Recently she had been awarded the Order of Luthuli, one of South Africa's highest honors.

The Mandela marriage that survived decades of prison bars dissolved with a formal separation in 1992, two years after Nelson Mandela was released. The other, "Rise Up" celebrated Nelson Mandela's presidency. "And he shed tears to say that we have made a decision to separate". Despite it all she never lost her endless compassion.

"She stood by her former husband Nelson Mandela throughout his stay in prison".

Thus some of the warm tributes that have been paid following her death aged 81 ring more than a little hollow.