South Africa was in mourning yesterday after the death of foremost anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, aged 81, for whom a state funeral will be held in two weeks’ time.
Hundreds of red-clad supporters of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters marched to Madikizela-Mandela’s home in the Johannesburg township of Soweto to pay homage to “the mother of the nation”, television footage showed.
Julius Malema, once a staunch member of the ruling African National Congress party and now leader of the EFF, visited the home in Soweto, lauding Madikizela-Mandela’s contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle, and noting that the EFF, unlike the ANC, were “never ashamed of her” despite her controversies.
Madikizela-Mandela was a controversial figure, at one time afforded heroine status for her courage during Mandela’s 27-year incarceration, but later demonised for how far she was prepared to go in the struggle for liberation.
The freedom fighter was at Mandela’s side when he emerged triumphantly from prison in 1990 before going on to become South Africa’s first black president in 1994.
Their marriage soon crumbled and they divorced in 1996, almost four decades after tying the knot.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has said a memorial service will be held for Madikizela-Mandela on April 11, and a state funeral will take place in Johannesburg on April 14.