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South Africans say goodbye to Winnie Mandela after days of mourning

South Africans say goodbye to Winnie Mandela after days of mourning

Millions of South Africans were saying goodbye to anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as her emotionally charged official funeral began today in Soweto, where she lived until her death on April 2 at 81.

Relatives carry the casket containing the body of the late Winnie Mandela at her house in Soweto in Johannesburg on April 13, 2018.

An occasion for political expression, many in the crowd wore the ANC's green, gold and black but also the red of Malema's breakaway party, Economic Freedom Fighters.

I arrived in Soweto on Wednesday to monitor the hearts and minds of the grassroots - the people who lived with her most of her life.

"Long before it was fashionable to call for Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island, it was my mother who kept his memory alive", Zenani Mandela-Dlamini said as the audience packing a 40,000-seat stadium erupted in cheers. "It's become clear that South Africa, and indeed the world, holds men and women to different standards of morality".

She added that "praising her now that she is gone shows what hypocrites you are".

South Africa's new President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office two months ago, will lead the mourners at a pre-burial service due to start at 0600 GMT on Saturday at Soweto's 37,000-capacity Orlando stadium. "I'm sorry mama that we delayed this much", he said, delivering the eulogy.

"She gave everything she had", said ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte. To those of you who vilified my mother through books and speeches, don't think we've forgotten.




Earlier on Saturday morning, Gauteng premier David Mahura said in his welcoming to the service that the "truth will triumphantly march forward to tell us who" Madikizela-Mandela was. "She fought from beginning to the end". Mourners booed when the presence of scandal-tainted Zuma was publicly acknowledged.

Foreign dignitaries at the funeral include the leaders of Namibia, Swaziland and the Republic of Congo, as well as American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and worldwide supermodel Naomi Campbell.

"It is hard to accept that she is no longer with us", cried her daughter Zenani Dlamini, "because she was always so strong".

Former president Jacob Zuma attends Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's funeral.

Madikizela-Mandela had been left to tend to her own pain alone. In 1993 she was elected president of African Nationa Congress (ANC).

"The Anti-apartheid regime has been misinterpreted to mean it was a man's triumph but we want to remind the world that it was not a man's struggle and triumph, she rose against a might of a nuclear state to bring peace to South Africa", she said.

In 1991, she was convicted for kidnapping and being an accessory in the assault of a 14-year-old boy and was more generally accused of overseeing violence in black townships.

But her controversial reputation was largely brushed aside in the wake of her death with tributes to her bravery, independence and integrity dominating public commemorations. Those who notice such things would have realized that her 2013 book, 491 Days-which tells the story of the brutality she experienced at the hands of the Apartheid state, the depths of her despair and her extraordinary resilience and defiance under extreme pressure-was already an invitation for a deep re-evaluation of her life. They had two daughters together.


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    Relatives carry the casket containing the body of the late Winnie Mandela at her house in Soweto in Johannesburg on April 13, 2018.
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