South Africans will say goodbye to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Saturday at an official funeral for the woman hailed as the mother of the nation because of her fight against apartheid. Crowds packed Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg’s Soweto township for the ceremony, which follows a private service at her home. Mourners followed Madikizela-Mandela’s coffin in procession into the stadium, where the funeral began with the singing of the national anthem.
Her daughters, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and Zindzi Mandela, and grandson, Zondwa Mandela, are among the speakers at the funeral. Dignitaries include presidents of the Republic of Congo and Namibia. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy. Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of the late Nelson Mandela, died this month in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness. She was 81.
As one of the country’s most prominent and polarizing 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 that of a member of parliament and leader of the ruling party’s women’s league.