World

Winnie Mandela, hailed as mother of new South Africa, dies

JOHANNESBURG: Winnie Mandela, the former wife of South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, died yesterday at the age of 81.

She died in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness, her spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement.

Hailed as mother of the "new" South Africa, Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's legacy as an anti-apartheid heroine was undone when she was revealed to be a ruthless ideologue prepared to sacrifice laws and lives in pursuit of revolution and redress.

Her uncompromising methods and refusal to forgive contrasted sharply with the reconciliation espoused by her husband Nelson Mandela as he worked to forge a stable, pluralistic democracy from the racial division and oppression of apartheid.

The contradiction helped kill their marriage and destroyed the esteem in which she was held by many South Africans, although the firebrand activist retained the support of radical black nationalists to the end.

In her twilight years, she had frequent run-ins with authority that further undermined her reputation as a fighter against the white-minority regime that ran Africa's most advanced economy from 1948 to 1994. - REUTERS

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