STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

South Africans mourn Winnie Mandela in a massive funeral

South Africans gathered Saturday to bid farewell to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid icon hailed as the m...

Posted: Apr 15, 2018 1:16 PM
Updated: Apr 15, 2018 1:16 PM

South Africans gathered Saturday to bid farewell to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid icon hailed as the mother of a nation and a political force.

Crowds packed Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg's Soweto township for the funeral following a private service at the home of Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of the late Nelson Mandela, who served as South Africa's President after fighting for decades to deliver the nation from apartheid. Mourners followed her coffin in procession into the stadium, where the funeral began with the singing of the national anthem.

Her daughter, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, was among the speakers at the funeral. Dignitaries also included Presidents of the Republic of Congo and Namibia, as well as civil rights leaders from around the world, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"She made a choice to raise two families, hers and the beloved country," Mandela-Dlamini said. "She cherished freedom as much as she treasured family. She protected both from constant assault from apartheid state."

Madikizela-Mandela died this month in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness. She was 81.

As one of the country's most prominent and polarizing figures, she retained political clout long after her divorce from Mandela. Since apartheid ended in the 1990s, she served in several government roles, including as a member of parliament and leader of the ruling party's women's league.

"Today, we lay to rest our heroine, a struggle stalwart and mother-to-the-nation," the government tweeted Saturday. It offered free rides for those who wanted to attend the funeral.

In his eulogy, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela was "an African woman who -- in her attitude, her words and her actions -- defied the very premise of apartheid ideology and male superiority."

Opposition leader rips 'sellouts' who didn't always stand by her

Some speakers used the occasion to blast people -- even some in the African National Congress, or ANC, the ruling political party to which Madikizela-Mandela belonged -- who didn't stand by her during her legal troubles.

Those difficulties included an incident in December 1988, when her bodyguards, known as the Mandela United Football Club, kidnapped four boys belonging to another anti-apartheid party. One of them, Stompie Moeketsi, was murdered a few days later.

In May 1991, she was sentenced to six years in prison for kidnapping in relation to the incident -- allegations she denied -- but the sentence was later reduced to a fine.

At Saturday's funeral, Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters leftist populist opposition party, gave a fiery speech excoriating those who turned their backs on her.

He repeatedly alleged that some who disowned Madikizela-Mandela amid her difficulties were at the funeral -- drawing roars from a crowd of tens of thousands. He rhetorically asked Madikizela-Mandela to give him a sign about how to treat them.

"What is funny, Mama, is that they are crying the loudest, more than all of us who cared for you," Malema, a friend of Madikizela-Mandela's, said.

"We see you in your beautiful suits. Betrayers! Sellouts! We see you."

"If it is true that the ANC honors Winnie Mandela, name the Cape Town airport Winnie Mandela Airport," he said, ending his speech to huge applause.

Her daughter, Mandela-Dlamini, touched on the same theme.

"Those that vilified my mother in book and in the media, don't think for a minute we've forgotten," she said.

'Standing shoulder to shoulder with men'

Thousands of mourners had gathered Wednesday for a public memorial in Soweto, where Madikizela-Mandel lived for decades.

Mourners wore black, green and gold -- colors of the ruling African National Congress political party. Others wore T-shirts emblazoned with an image of Madikizela-Mandel.

Deputy President David Mabuza described her as a visionary who championed reconciliation.

"You taught young women across the nation that they are just as capable, if not more capable, of standing shoulder to shoulder with men and being totally unapologetic about it," Mabuza said. "Till death, you knew who your enemy was: racial domination, class exploitation, gender oppression."

Mandela's former wife

Madikizela-Mandela was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, including the 27 years he was imprisoned on an island near Cape Town. While Mandela was imprisoned at Robben Island, she became his voice, providing regular updates to followers hungry for every detail.

When Mandela left prison in 1990, she stood next to him, one hand clasped in his as they raised their free hands clenched in fists -- a moment memorialized in a photo that became a symbol of his freedom.

While their marriage withstood the battle against apartheid, it couldn't withstand the pressure of freedom. Mandela accused her of infidelity, and they divorced in 1996, two years after he was elected the first black president of South Africa.

Parliament member

At the time of Madikizela-Mandela's death, the longtime stalwart of the ruling party was a member of South Africa's parliament.

Ramaphosa described her as "an advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalized" and "a voice for the voiceless."

"Even at the darkest moments of our struggle for liberation, Mam' Winnie was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free," Ramaphosa said in a statement. "In the midst of repression, she was a voice of defiance and resistance. In the face of exploitation, she was a champion of justice and equality."

Born in 1936 in what is now known as Eastern Cape province, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela was the daughter of a history teacher.

As a 22-year-old social worker, she married Nelson Mandela in 1958, and stood by him in the years following his 1964 conviction and life imprisonment for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

She led an international campaign calling for his release.

Outside Africa, she was known largely because of her one-time husband, but in South Africa she was the mouthpiece and face of the bitter struggle against the racist regime.

Terre Haute
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 51°
Robinson
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
Indianapolis
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Rockville
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 40°
Casey
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
Brazil
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 51°
Marshall
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
A Nice Thanksgiving
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 674089

Reported Deaths: 12261
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook2871246389
DuPage42201754
Will36082532
Lake34915612
Kane29870449
Winnebago17843248
McHenry13332150
Madison13291229
St. Clair12340255
Champaign1031652
Sangamon938390
Peoria8388124
Rock Island8152121
Kankakee799996
McLean786950
Tazewell616992
Macon6121117
Kendall583342
LaSalle5687127
DeKalb471445
Adams449046
Boone364230
Vermilion355344
Whiteside3510100
Williamson332777
Coles316058
Clinton303556
Ogle266026
Knox259956
Grundy253916
Effingham252518
Jackson250334
Henry245313
Stephenson231834
Marion228344
Livingston209521
Randolph205924
Morgan204734
Macoupin198817
Bureau198337
Monroe193144
Franklin187422
Christian177640
Lee172224
Jefferson170859
Woodford158926
Iroquois153325
Logan152412
McDonough151339
Fayette146328
Fulton131910
Douglas126916
Shelby125824
Jersey114923
Union112026
Montgomery105819
Saline105122
Crawford10509
Jo Daviess101816
Warren100620
Carroll100124
Perry96820
Pike96623
Bond93610
Lawrence92410
Hancock90412
Cass90021
Moultrie82810
Wayne82432
Greene77426
Clay75817
Clark74519
Edgar73315
Piatt7215
Ford69821
Mercer67710
Richland67419
Johnson6653
Mason64916
Washington6112
Jasper60511
De Witt58814
Cumberland58013
White5648
Massac5112
Wabash4918
Menard4211
Pulaski3862
Hamilton3663
Marshall3625
Unassigned3620
Brown2983
Henderson2610
Alexander2482
Schuyler2431
Putnam2360
Calhoun2250
Scott2230
Stark2183
Edwards2123
Gallatin1803
Hardin1310
Pope791
Out of IL140

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266