Winnie Mandela, South African anti-apartheid activist, dies at 81

Winnie Mandela was instrumental in the fight against apartheid. (Net photo)

South African anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela has died aged 81, her personal assistant says. She was the former wife of South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela.

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 nearly three decades.

Her family are expected to release a statement later today.

Born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in 1936‚  Winnie Mandela moved to Johannesburg to study social work after matriculating.

She met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957 and they were married a year later. They had two children together.

However‚ her marriage life with Mandela was short-lived‚ as he was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Mandela was eventually released in 1990.

During Mandela’s time in prison‚ Madikizela-Mandela was not spared the reach of the apartheid forces. She was placed under house arrest and at one time banished to Brandfort‚ a town in the Free State.

In 1969‚ Madikizela-Mandela became one of the first detainees under Section 6 of the notorious Terrorism Act of 1967. She was detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in a condemned cell at Pretoria Central Prison before being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.

 

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