The South African government has announced a state funeral for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a former wife of the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.
“Freedom fighter Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela will be laid to rest on 14 April 2018, during a state funeral,” a government statement read.
Winnie, touted as mother of the nation, passed away on at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on Monday, April 1, after protracted illness. “She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year,” Victor Dlamini, a family spokesperson, said in a statement.
“She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.”
Ahead of the funeral, an official memorial service of Madikizela-Mandela will take place on 11 April 2018. President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on Monday night after visiting the family home of the former activist in Orlando, Soweto.
“At a national government level, we have declared that Winnie Mandela will have a national official funeral. We would like to express our gratitude and our thanks to the many across the country and the world who are wishing us well,” said President Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa stressed that Madikizela-Mandela had left behind a huge legacy. He had earlier met with the Mandela family to offer his condolences and support.
“As we say in African culture, [she was] a tree that provided shade for the people of South Africa, for the people who were in the struggle who used to run under this tree for refuge and security. We are sad that this tree has finally fallen,” the president added.