The news of the passing away of Comrade Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela Mandela this afternoon has sent shockwaves across South Africa. Cde Madikizela Mandela passed away this afternoon at Millpark Hospital in Johannesburg after a very short illness.
Cde Madikizela Mandela was a much revered member of the freedom loving people of our country, an outstanding militant and leader of our struggle to defeat the apartheid system. She was a trained Social Worker, a mother of two daughters, a grandmother and great grandmother, but above all, she was to many a loving and caring person, a shoulder to cry on, a militant spokesperson for the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
She married the late Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in 1958 at a time when he was among the Treason Trialists. Upon discharge from that trial he was engrossed in all aspects of the struggle for freedom, but remained a devoted and loving husband to his wife. When he was sent to jail in 1962, and when he was sentenced at the Rivonia Trial, she was beside him. On 11 February 1991 she was on his side when he walked out of Victor Verster Prison.
During all the years he was in jail, she devoted herself to that struggle for liberation for which her husband had been imprisoned. She brought up her two daughters, educated them, and taught this nation and the world to love their father, and for the world never to forget the ideals for which he was imprisoned.
Confined, detained, banned, banished, harassed by the apartheid security police, she refused to be intimidated. As a social worker, she was prevented from practising her profession, but to many people in Soweto, she was called upon for counselling and support in difficult times.
To the emerging militancy of the young people from the days of the Black Consciousness activists to the schoolchildren of Soweto, she trusted the militant instincts of the young and stood with them in defiance of the armies of occupation in the black townships. To the victims of apartheid terror in the townships, she was among the first to hold the hands, visit the injured, comfort the dying, and sustain the spirits of the bereaved families.
She became the President of the ANC Women’s League, and a long-serving member of the ANC National Executive Committee. Her common touch was always primary for her. She had a very definite view about the distinctive role of women in the struggle, which role they did not owe to the benevolence of the men. She denounced patriarchy in the Movement, as much as she had a profound disdain for a movement that was distant from the daily travails of the poor.
For all of that she was a leader of the ANC of a special kind. There are not many who were like her. The women and men within the ANC and beyond have much to learn from her.
The Patron of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, the Board of Trustees, the CEO and staff send our condolences to the Madikizela and the Mandela Families, to her daughters Zenani, and Zinzi, and share their grief at this hour of bereavement. To all of them we say our prayers are with you. May the great militant and leader rest in peace.
Hamba Kahle MaNgutyana! Lala ngoxolo!
THABO MBEKI FOUNDATION
2 April 2018.