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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, celebrated as an anti-apartheid champion for South Africa’s oppressed and poor, will receive a national funeral later this month, newly installed South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said.

The death of the former first lady of South Africa and former wife of the late Nelson Mandela was announced on Monday after she battled a “long” illness. She was 81.

Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral will be on April 14, with an official memorial service on April 11.

Ramaphosa paid condolences to the family of Madikizela-Mandela, befittingly referred to as the “mother of the nation,” at the late activist’s home in the Soweto township in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday night, according to UK’s The Independent. The anti-apartheid hero was a “champion of justice and equality” whose “dedication to the plight of her people gained her the love and the respect of the nation,” Ramaphosa said in a televised tribute.

“For many years‚ she bore the brunt of the senseless brutality of the apartheid state with stoicism and fortitude,” Ramaphosa continued. “Despite the hardship she faced‚ she never doubted that the struggle for freedom and democracy would triumph and succeed. She remained throughout her life a tireless advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalised. She was the voice for the voiceless.”

Julius Malema, who heads the South African radical economic emancipation movement known as the Economic Freedom Fighters or EFF, visited Madikizela-Mandela’s home on Monday, as well. Hundreds of EFF members also marched to her home, and Malema referred to the late activist as a friend, The Punch, a Nigerian newspaper, reported.

Malema, who was once a member of the ruling African National Congress party which Madikizela-Mandela and Nelson Mandela had belonged, said he was “never ashamed” of the former South Africa first lady. She will be terribly missed, many folks have said on social media.


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Winnie Mandela Will Receive State Funeral, South African President Says  was originally published on