Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died on Easter Monday, aged 81, her personal assistant said today. Soon after her death, family in a statement said, "she succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones". Winnie would later say that she was married to Mandela who was also married to "the struggle".
"Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists", he said.
"Mother of the Nation" 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.
In 1993, Madikizela-Mandela was elected as president of the ANC Women's League and a year later, under a democratic South Africa, she was appointed to Parliament under the leadership of her then-husband, where she became deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology.
Her award was received by Gandhi Baai, Winnie Mandela's niece, who sang a song in praise of Winnie Mandela after receiving the award.
Speaking outside Madikizela-Mandela's home on Soweto's Vilakazi Street‚ Ramaphosa confirmed that the "national official funeral" would take place on April 14.
A prominent figure in the history of South African politics, Winnie's role during the long struggle to end apartheid saw her being thrust into the spotlight in the wake of Nelson Mandela's life sentence as she carried the heavy burden of continuing her husband's legacy.
Politicians also offered their condolences for Madikizela-Mandela, especially those who had worked with her over the years.
Mr Mandela, who stood by her throughout the accusations, was finally released from prison in February 1990. Madikizela-Mandela's chief bodyguard was convicted of murder.
From that period Madikizela-Mandela would be put under surveillance and arrested several times by apartheid police. The Mandela marriage that survived decades of prison bars dissolved with a formal separation in 1992, two years after Nelson Mandela was released.
She had become a lone wild card, isolated from the African National Congress, and she quickly formed her Mandela United Football Club, a kind of brigandage with Mrs Mandela as the mafia boss feeding off the ills of township society. "Together hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country", she said. "I was visiting my neighbour and when they told me [Madikizela-Mandela died] it was like a close family member had died". They were separated when he became president in 1994, divorcing in 1996.
The President prayed that God Almighty will comfort all those who mourn the departed and grant her soul eternal rest.
While Mandela was in prison, she took on an increasingly political role, becoming an worldwide symbol of resistance to apartheid and a rallying point for poor, black Soweto township residents who demanded their freedom.