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Tens of thousands of South Africans have filled a stadium in Soweto for the funeral service of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a heroine of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa but also one of its most controversial figures. "We know her. We don't need [former police commissioner during Apartheid] George Fivaz to tell us about Winnie Mandela‚" Malema said.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Soweto on Friday to see the funeral procession of Winnie Mandela ahead of her final send-off this weekend.

Condolences poured in from around the world in remembrance of one of the 20th century's most prominent political activists.

Dignitaries include civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson as well as Presidents of the Republic of Congo and Namibia.

During Mandela's 27-year incarceration for his fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and for the rights of black South Africans undergoing detention, banishment and arrest. "I am here to look at your grandchildren in the eyes and tell them that they will never be treated like they have leprosy as long am still alive".

"She never left the belly of the beast".

Campbell spoke of how she first met Madikizela-Mandela in 1990‚ when she accompanied Nelson Mandela on his first visit to NY.

Born in 1936 in what is now known as Eastern Cape province, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela was the daughter of a history teacher.

"For those us who have been close to her‚ we have always appreciated just what she meant to the world".

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After Mandela was imprisoned, Madikizela-Mandela embraced her own leadership in the freedom struggle with steely determination and at great personal sacrifice. She refused to be domesticated by the apartheid government, to submit to them and to keep her head down. "She kept my father's memory in people's hearts".

It took a toll.

President Ramaphosa described Mrs Madikizela-Mandela as a symbol of resistance who laid bare the edifice of patriarchy.

However, the conviction was later overturned with the court handing her a suspended sentence of three years and six months for fraud.

Calling his party "the sons and daughters" of Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, he leveled stinging criticism at the governing party.

Mandela divorced her in 1996, claiming infidelity and saying that after his launch from jail, his spouse made him "the loneliest man".

Though she fought fiercely for democracy, Madikizela-Mandela floundered in a political career after the first free elections in 1994.

South Africa's president has paid an emotional tribute to anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, pledging to propose that she receive the ruling African National Congress' highest honour.

The 81-year-old‚ who died on last Monday‚ was to spend one more night at home before she is buried at the Fourways Memorial Park today.


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