Winnie Mandela, former wife of Nelson Mandela, South African hero, has died aged 81.
Zodwa Zwane‚ her personal assistant, confirmed this on Monday afternoon.
“It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa on Monday, April 2‚ 2018,” he said in a statement.
She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.
“She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones,” her family said in a statement.
Born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in 1936‚ she moved to Johannesburg to study social work after matriculating.
She met her husband in 1957 and they were married a year later.
The deceased was actively involved in the anti-apartheid struggle of her ex-husband, who died five years ago.
In 1969‚ she became one of the first detainees under section 6 of the terrorism Aat of 1967. She was detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in a condemned cell at Pretoria Central Prison before being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.
In 1991‚ she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault of Stompie Seipei‚ a young activist who was killed by a member of her bodyguards‚ the Mandela United Football Club.
Her bodyguards had abducted Seipei in 1989‚ along with three other youth‚ from the home of Methodist minister Paul Verryn.
Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a two-year suspended sentence on appeal.
Her marriage to Mandela began to flounder a few years after his release.
A letter she purportedly wrote to her young lover found its way into the newspapers.
“You’re running around f…ing at the slightest emotional excuse‚” she wrote.
“The fact that I haven’t been speaking to Tata [Nelson Mandela] for five months now over you is no longer your concern. I keep telling you the situation is deteriorating at home. You are not bothered because you are satisfying yourself every night with a woman‚” Madikizela-Mandela reportedly wrote.