Winnie Mandela passes on aged 81

UPDATE 2-Winnie Mandela, tainted anti-apartheid figurehead, dies at 81

It's especially this iconic picture of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela the world will remember: After her husband Nelson Mandela was released from prison on February 11, 1990, the couple marched together to attend a rally.

Madikizela-Mandela was married to the late South African President Nelson Mandela for almost 40 years, including the 27 years he was imprisoned on an island near Cape Town, South Africa, for his anti-apartheid efforts. She understood the fear they had was the same fear that she felt herself.

On the day of her death, her legacy remains as tortuous as her life, which she reclaimed as her own - refusing to live under her hero husband's shadow. He was married at the time to Evelyn Mase but the marriage was breaking up.

She had been a member of Parliament ever since‚ despite limited appearances in Parliament in the past few years. She was even banned from leaving home. Mandela was eventually released in 1990.

In April 2016, she was accorded one of South Africa's highest honors: the Order of Luthuli, given, in part, for contributions to the struggle for democracy.

"Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists", said Mr Tutu. Often referred to as "Mother of the Nation", Madikizela-Mandela played a key role in the struggle to dismantle South Africa's racist apartheid state.

The execution was carried on by the so-called Mandela United Football Club, a vigilante gang that claimed to be her bodyguard. They divorced in 1996.

Her prominence led to great influence over young, radical township activists but also growing controversy.

On Monday, Ramaphosa praised Madikizela-Mandela as "an advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalized" and "a voice for the voiceless".

Her six-year jail term was reduced on appeal to a fine.

Most of their marriage was spent apart, with her husband imprisoned for 27 years - with Winnie raising their two daughters alone while trying to keep his political dream alive. She was 24 years old at the time and became Mandela's second wife.

Outside Africa, Madikizela-Mandela was known largely because of her ex-husband, but in South Africa she was the mouthpiece and face of the bitter struggle against the racist regime. When we had birthdays she would call us and when there were funerals, she'd always go. In 2003, she was sentenced to 4 years in prison on dozens of counts of theft and bank fraud.

She nevertheless sought to remain in his orbit.

President Cyril Ramaphosa led an outpouring of grief over her death in South Africa.

She would later clash with him and become political patron of the youth leader Julius Malema. The Supreme Court affirmed a decision that she held no claim to it in January 2018.

Winnie was also recently conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by Makerere University. As per family, she was 81. As per local media, she was not well from last several years and was admitted to the hospital for the kidney problem treatment. A family statement said she died peacefully after a long illness, surrounded by her family.

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