By Frederick H. Lowe
Winifred Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, died Monday, Al Jazeera and several other news outlets are reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa, near where she lived. Winifred Mandela was 81 years old.
“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of the hospital since the start of the year,” Victor Diamini, a family spokesman said in a statement. “She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.”
When Nelson Mandela was sentenced to prison, Winnie, a social worker by education and training, became more active, leading the country’s anti-apartheid struggle in which she was sentenced to prison and fined.
Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years for fighting against apartheid on February 11, 1990. The couple married in 1958 and divorced in 1996. She kept his last name and they remained friends. They were parents of two daughters.
Nelson Mandela, president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, died December 5, 2013.
Winnie Mandela was born September 26, 1936 in the Transkei, now known as the Eastern Cape.
A memorial service is scheduled for April 11. State funeral services will be held April 14.