Speakers at the late Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s tribute, organised by the Nelson Mandela Foundation at Constitution Hill, have described her as a selfless struggle hero.
Madikizela-Mandela passed away on Monday, 2 April at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, after a long illness, that saw her being in and out of hospital since the start of the year.
Madikizela-Mandela was one of many liberation activists who were arrested and incarcerated at the Constitution Hill prison complex during apartheid.
Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told mourners on Monday that Mam’ Winnie understood the struggle for the poor.
“She lived for others. She lived a selfless life,” said Manuel, adding that Madikizela-Mandela was a unifying force in adversity.
Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said Mam’ Winnie was brave and she embraced the role of protecting the poor. “We learnt a lot about the struggle from Mama.”
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe told mourners that he had a special relationship with Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, as she was a beacon of hope. The Minister said the 10-day mourning period declared by President Ramaphosa was an appropriate gesture for a giant of the struggle.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said the passing of Mama Madikizela-Mandela was not just a loss to the Mandela family but to the whole country.
“We have lost a brave leader, a loving mother and a grandmother,” he said.
Zondo said Madikizela-Mandela kept the struggle going during the darkest times.
“She made sure that apartheid was defeated. She spoke her mind,” he said, highlighting the role Madikizela-Mandela played in the community.
Zondo used the occasion to urge people to play their role in fighting corruption. “The Judiciary will continue to play its role. We must all play our role,” he said.
Struggling to contain her emotions, Ndileka Mandela told mourners that the passing of Mama took them by surprise. She thanked all South Africans and people from all over the world for supporting the family.
“We want her to be buried in dignity,” she said.
Graca Machel, the wife of former President Mandela, said it was early days and that they were “processing the pain”.
Dignitaries, who attended the service, included musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Madiba’s long-time friend George Bizos, among others.
The memorial service honouring the life and times of Mam’ Winnie will take place at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday and the funeral service will be held at the same venue on Saturday.