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Thousands bid farewell to Winnie Mandela


South Africa lays to rest anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie Mandela with full state honours at a stadium funeral in Soweto on Saturday.

From the very start of the official programme, some of the people who filled the 40 000 capacity stadium made their views known - booing former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma when their presence was announced at the funeral. Because anyone who reads that book grasps just how much my mother dedicated her life to the struggle for a free South Africa.

Earlier, Malema's speech opened up all wounds when he directly addressed the fallen hero and said, "Mama, there are sell-outs here".

"In death, she has demonstrated that our many differences along political party and racial lines and the numerous disputes we may have are eclipsed by our shared desire to follow her lead in building a just, equitable and caring society", he said.

"I will be proposing to the National Executive Committee that the ANC award you the highest honour of our movement, Isithwalandwe".

"I'm sorry mama that your organisation delayed you in according you its honour". What do I tell them? What must we tell them? "Give us a sign Mama", said Malema.

Culture shock for Brazilian photographer attending Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's memorial
'World lucky to have witnessed #WinnieMandela's greatness'

EFF leader Julius Malema, an admirer of Madikizela-Mandela who echoes her fiery rhetoric, said she had always put the country "above her own personal safety" in the fight against apartheid. He apologised for only belatedly recognising her contribution.

"She bandaged our wounds".

"Let us honour her memory by pledging here that we will not betray the trust of her people, we will not squander or steal their resources, and that we will serve them diligently and selflessly", the president said.

Often called the "Mother of the Nation" and "Mama Winnie", Madikizela-Mandela fought to keep South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle in the global spotlight while her husband, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said her death unified people across political divide and beyond the country's borders.

At my mother's 80th birthday in September 2016, I said: 'One day, the story of how you fought back so valiantly against that bad and powerful regime will be told. "I know that Julius [Malema] will come with me so that we can heal the wounds of those in Marikana", said Ramaphosa.

After family rituals in the morning Madikizela Mandela's body was taken to the stadium draped in the national flag.

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In 1991, Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault, but her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a 2 year suspended sentence on appeal.

At the funeral, Mrs Madikizela-Mandela's daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini berated the "extreme cruelty" of those she said had led smear campaigns against her mother and isolated her - only to clear her name after her death. Even though I didn't know her in person, we love our mother.

As mourners said a final goodbye to the late civil rights activists a military procession escorted her coffin out of the stadium in the city. In his tribute he singled out the now disbanded United Democratic Front, who distanced itself from Madkizela-Mandela during her controversies in the 1990s and members of the ANC's women's league who called Madkizela-Mandela a criminal. As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone. The pain we carry in our hearts can not be extinguished.

As the event drew to a close, a sombre mood returned to the stadium.

Her daughter, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, was among the speakers at the funeral.

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