After battling a long illness, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Mother of the Nation, passed away this afternoon at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg surrounded by her loved ones.
Ms Madikizela-Mandela's story grabbed the imagination of people around the world.
Ms. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela demonstrated leadership throughout her political career; herself being incarcerated, being in solitary confinement, her transition from the leader of the movement to government.
She and her husband began a family before Nelson Mandela went underground and then was imprisoned for more than a quarter-century.
In 1991, after his release, she was charged with the assault and kidnapping of Stompie and one of her bodyguards was charged with his murder.
She faced these allegations again during the 1997 hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a panel that investigated apartheid-era crimes.
Winnie Mandela, who was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, played a key part in the campaign to end white-minority rule but her place in history was also stained by controversy.
Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist in her own right whose reputation was sullied by scandal, has died.
The couple - famously pictured hand-in-hand as Mr Mandela walked free from prison after 27 years - were a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle for almost three decades.
Madikizela-Mandela was regularly detained, tortured and placed under house arrest by the apartheid regime.
The South African Broadcasting Corp. said she was admitted to the hospital over the weekend complaining of the flu after she attended a church service Friday. She organized both women and youth who conducted an unrelenting struggle against the wicked system of legalized racism.
Madikizela-Mandela had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year, according to her family.
She had back surgery a year ago.
A family spokesman confirmed her death on 2 April, aged 81.
Since Monday's announcement, many have expressed their sadness over Madikizela-Mandela's passing and their admiration for her work, including members of the African National Congress, who said in a statement to the BBC, "With the departure of Mama Winnie, [we have lost] one of the very few who are left of our stalwarts and icons".
The apartheid police later harassed her, sometimes dragging her from bed at night without giving her a chance to make arrangements for her daughters. The Mandelas separated in 1992 and were formally divorced in 1996. "I was visiting my neighbour and when they told me [Madikizela-Mandela died] it was like a close family member had died".
Confirming her support for Malema and his calls for seizure of white-owned farms and banks, Madikizela-Mandela revealed her contempt in 2010 for the deal her ex-husband struck with South Africa's white minority almost two decades before.
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