Johannesburg, April 14 (IANS) South Africa’s liberation struggle icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who was once married to former President Nelson Mandela, was laid to rest here on Saturday with full military honours.
The government dispatched 600 buses which started collecting people around 4.30 a.m. to the stadium where the service took place.
After family rituals in the morning, Madikizela Mandela’s body was taken to the stadium draped in the national flag. South Africans stood by the road side as the funeral procession proceeded to the stadium. Many sung liberation struggle songs, Xinhua news agency reported.
Madikizela Mandela died on April 2 in Johannesburg at the age of 81. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said her death unified people across political divide and beyond the country’s borders.
“In death, she has brought us all together, from near and far, across many nations and continents, to mourn, to pay homage, to remember and to fondly reminisce.
“In death, she has demonstrated that our many differences along political party and racial lines and the numerous disputes we may have are eclipsed by our shared desire to follow her lead in building a just, equitable and caring society,” he said.
Ramaphosa said Madikizela Mandela provided leadership at the most difficult time and never demanded a reward. “We must continue to touch Mama’s wounds, acknowledge her immense pain and torment, and pass on the stories of her suffering to future generations so that it may always be known that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a giant, a pathfinder… and forever the Mother of the Nation.”
Madikizela Mandela’s young sister, Zukiswa Madikizela described her sister as fearless, courageous, loving and good at street fighting.
Madikizela Mandela’s daughter Zenani, broke down on the podium while paying her last respects to her mother.
British supermodel Naomi Campbell also addressed the mourners where she also broke down. She said the world came to know about Nelson Mandela through the late Madikizela Mandela.
Campbell said: “She was a heroine, of a whole continent, a courageous symbol of resistance for all of us. She was the eyes and ears of the world during those dark days.
From the stadium, Madikizela Mandela was taken to Fourways Memorial Park Cemetery in Johannesburg, where she was laid to rest.