9/26/14 Former Nelson Mandela's wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela joins guests as they toasted in celebration of her 78th birthday party held at Vilakazi's street in Soweto. Picture:Paballo Thekiso
Johannesburg - South Africans on Monday reacted with sadness and shock to the death of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela. 

Earlier, a family spokesperson confirmed that Madikizela Mandela had passed away at the  Netcare Milpark Hospital  following a long illness. She was 81. 

"It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Winnie Madikizela Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, on Monday April , 2018. 

"She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones."

ALSO READ: Winnie Madikizela Mandela has died

Following the news, South African politicians, celebrities and citizens took to social media to mourn Madikizela Mandela and remember her role in the fight against apartheid.

Cooperative Governance Minister Zweli Mkhize hailed Madikizela Mandela as the mother of the nation and true freedom fighter. 

#WinnieMandela Struggle Icon, freedom fighter, Mother of our nation . May her soul rest in eternal peace pic.twitter.com/KVopjhoBPQ

Adding to this was ANC Elections Head, Fikile Mbalula, who expressed shock at her passing and said Madikizela Mandela "embodied strength, resistance and an undying spirit of love for freedom".

See more reactions to Madikizela Mandela's death: