• Funeral with military honours to hold in Soweto
• National flag to fly at half-mast at diplomatic missions abroad
South Africa yesterday declared 10 days of national mourning for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and ex-wife of Nelson Mandela who died after a long illness.
A memorial service for Madikizela-Mandela will be held on April 11 at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Johannesburg’s Soweto area, and a “special official” funeral with military honours will take place at Orlando Stadium in Soweto three days later, the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
The Regina Mundi church was a refuge for anti-apartheid activists during white minority rule.
Madikizela-Mandela’s house in Soweto has been visited by mourners since she died on Monday at age 81. African National Congress (ANC) Women league members sang outside the home yesterday. They will stage a mass march to her home today.
The South African flag will fly at half-mast at official locations and at South African diplomatic missions abroad during the mourning period, which will end on April 14, according to Ramaphosa’s office.
Zweli Mkhize, a senior minister in the African National Congress (ANC) party government, said Winnie Mandela’s death marked “the end of an era” as she was a leading stalwart from the darkest days of the anti-apartheid campaign.
“We are losing the last few of those very committed freedom fighters and I think all we have to do is to always take lessons from her life,” Mkhize said outside Winnie Mandela’s house in Soweto where she lived for decades. “When she had to face the apartheid government, she was fearless but also among ourselves she was never shy to criticise.”
The outspoken leader of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party Julius Malema, who became a confidant of Winnie Mandela in recent years, was also among mourners at her modest two-storey red brick home yesterday.
Madikizela-Mandela was persecuted by the apartheid government, and venerated by many South Africans, because of her activism against white minority rule. Her reputation was sullied by scandals, including a 1991 conviction for kidnapping and assault.