Winnie Mandela funeral underway in SA
South Africans will say goodbye to Winnie Mandela on Saturday at an official funeral for the ant-apartheid icon.
Crowds packed Orlando Stadium in Soweto for the ceremony, which follows a private service at her home.
Dignitaries include civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson as well as Presidents of the Republic of Congo and Namibia.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy. Kenyan Opposition leader Raila Odinga and his wife Ida are also at the ceremony. (see photo below)
Winnie’s daughters, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and Zindzi Mandela, and grandson, Zondwa Mandela, are among the speakers at the funeral.
Mourners followed the coffin in procession into the stadium, where the funeral began with the singing of the national anthem.
Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of the late Nelson Mandela, died on April 2 in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness. She was 81.
As one of the country’s most prominent and polarising figures, she retained political clout long after her divorce from Mandela, the nation’s first black President.
Since the end of apartheid in the 1990s, she served in several government roles, including member of parliament and leader of the ruling party’s women’s league.
“Today we lay to rest our heroine, a struggle stalwart and mother-to-the-nation,” the government tweeted Saturday. It offered free rides for those who wanted to attend the funeral.
Mourners wore black, green and gold — colors of the ruling African National Congress political party. Others wore T-shirts emblazoned with an image of her.
Deputy President David Mabuza described her as a visionary who championed reconciliation.
“You taught young women across the nation that they are just as capable, if not more capable, of standing shoulder to shoulder with men and being totally unapologetic about it,” Mabuza said. “Till death, you knew who your enemy was: racial domination, class exploitation, gender oppression.”