Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela‚ a stalwart in South Africa’s fight against apartheid‚ died at the age of 81.

Her PA‚ Zodwa Zwane‚ confirmed the struggle veteran’s death on Monday afternoon.

She said the family would be issuing a statement later in the day.

Born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in 1936‚ she moved to Johannesburg to study social work.

She met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957 and they were married a year later. They had two children together.

However‚ her marriage life with Mandela was short-lived‚ as he was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Mandela was eventually released in 1990.

Prison, confinement and banishment became a part of Winnie after husband Mandela was arrested in 1961 and handed a life sentence in 1962 over treason-related charges.

Winnie remained vulnerable to aggressive and violent government forces, which she took time learning to navigate.

Before Mandela’s arrest and conviction, their marriage was a dramatic one – they would clandestinely meet as Mandela avoided the security network.

Winnie would often be restricted- like in 1962 when was confined within the frontiers of Johannesburg  – she was not allowed to address any gathering of more than two people.

When allowed to visit Mandela at Robben Island, she would travel over 1400 kilometres from Johannesburg to Robben Island, near Cape Town.

In 1965, restrictions became even tougher with Winnie not allowed to move beyond her neighbourhood in Orlando West, Johannesburg.

She gave up her job as a social worker and struggled to keep her two daughters in school.  In 1969, she was a victim of preventive arrest and spent 17 months in solitary confinement.

When the court granted her freedom, she was immediately handed another ban of five years.

She could not leave home or visit her imprisoned husband.

She joined youths and activists to redeem jailed activists.

In 1977 she was banished to the remotest village in Freestate for 5 years.

The couple divorced in 1996‚ 37 years after their marriage.

After the first democratic election in 1994‚ Madikizela-Mandela became an MP and was appointed deputy minister of arts and culture.

She was fired by Mandela after an unauthorised trip to Ghana.

She had been an MP ever since‚ despite limited appearances in Parliament in the past few years.

In 2016‚ she was conferred with the Order of Luthuli in Silver during the National Orders Awards ceremony for her excellent contribution to the fight for the liberation of the people of South Africa.

Winnie was also recently conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by Makerere University.

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