We lost a true revolutionary in Winnie Mandela, for decades she and her then-husband, the iconic Nelson Mandela, were the country’s most famous political couple – but Mr Mandela divorced her in 1996.
After their separation she kept his surname and they maintained ties, leading to critics accusing her of attempting to use his name for political mileage, yet again her life was full of accusations ranging from murder to corruption.
Born in Bizana in the Transkei in 1936, she met Mr Mandela in 1957. He was married at the time to Evelyn Mase but the marriage was breaking up.
The next year they married – she was a young bride, 16 years his junior, glamorous and strong-willed. However, they were destined to have little time together as political activism and a period in hiding kept Mr Mandela apart from her. While he was in prison, she took on an increasingly political role, partly because of constant harassment by the South African security police.
She became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid and a rallying point for poor, black township residents who demanded their freedom. Her presence in Soweto is still present even during my stay in the townships. Her resistance to harassment and championing of the anti-apartheid cause led to periods of imprisonment from 1969, much of it spent in solitary confinement.
This led to her being dubbed the “Mother of the Nation”.