SOWETO, South Africa (Reuters) – Activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was buried Saturday in Soweto, a symbolic place in the struggle against apartheid, where ex-wife of former president Nelson Mandela is worshiped.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died on April 2 at the age of 81 after a long illness. His funeral, held after a national mourning of two weeks, attracted nearly 40,000 including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and members of the opposition.
“By her death, she demonstrates that political and racial divides can be overshadowed by our shared desire to follow her line by building a just, equitable and caring society for everyone,” he said.
“She spoke loudly and never apologized, she held a truth language to power, it was those who were in power, fragile and fearful who inflicted the most cruel punishments, and yet, despite all that she endured, they could not break her, they could not silence her, “he said.
The burial took place after a national mourning of nearly two weeks decreed by the government.
Many people wore the green and yellow colors of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), in which Winnie Madikizela-Mandela fought against white power.
Among the speakers was also Julius Malema, leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, who expressed admiration for the defunct who, according to him, has always placed the country “in above his own security “in his fight against apartheid.
“She has always lived in danger, ready to lose her life, and even the lives of her own children who were endangered by her political activities,” he said.
Winnie, an anti-apartheid campaigner, had married Nelson Mandela in 1958. They separated in 1992, two years after her husband’s release from jail, for which she had worked. She had taken the name of Madikizela-Mandela four years later, once the divorce was pronounced.
Become an icon, the one that was considered the release of “Madiba” as the “mother” of the new South Africa had however seen its image tarnish because of judicial and political affairs, especially for the excesses of “Mandela United Football Club “(MUFC), in the black city of Soweto, during the last years of apartheid.
Accused of having murdered anti-apartheid activist Stompie Seipei, found throat cut near her home in Soweto, the fallen “mother of the nation” had been sentenced to six years in prison in 1991 for kidnapping and assaulting a teenager of 14 years that she suspected of being an informant. His sentence was eventually reduced on appeal to a simple fine.
(Nomvelo Chalumbira, Nicolas Delame and Jean Terzian for French service)