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According to BBC News, Winnie Mandela, the former wife of late South African apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, has died at 81.

Mandela, an activist and speaker in her own right, was seen as a pillar of strength who formalized as a large proponent of the anti-apartheid movement during her marriage and in the years after.

Family spokesperson, Victor Dlamini, said Mandela died at home early Monday after battling a long illness. She was interned at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg

“She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones, Dlamini said in a statement obtained by BBC.

Mandela was born in 1936 in Eastern Cape, formerly known as Transkei. She was working as a social worker when met her husband in the 1950’s. The couple stayed married for 38 years – which included the 27 years Mandela was imprisoned by the South African governement.

Five years after her husband was jailed after being targeted for his role in the anti-apartheid movement, Mandela was also jailed by the government.

The couple divorced in 1996, but remained close up until Mandela’s death in 2013. She is survived by her two children, Zindziswa and Zenani Mandela.

This is a developing story.



Winnie Mandela, Activist & Icon In The Anti-Apartheid Movement, Dies At 81  was originally published on