President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Dr Tshepe Motsepe joined Winnie Madikizela Mandela on her 80th birthday in Cape Town. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ON THE PASSING OF WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA

Fellow South Africans,

It is with a profound sense of loss and deep sadness that we have learnt of the passing away of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Even at the darkest moments of our struggle for liberation, Mam’ Winnie was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free.

In the midst of repression, she was a voice of defiance and resistance.

In the face of exploitation, she was a champion of justice and equality.

It was through marriage that she rose to prominence, but it was through her own contribution, her sacrifice and her unyielding determination that she gained the love and the respect of the nation.

For many years, she bore the brunt of the senseless brutality of the apartheid state with stoicism and fortitude. Despite the hardships she faced, she never doubted that the struggle for freedom and democracy would succeed.

She remained throughout her life a tireless advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalised. She was a voice for the voiceless.

In the coming days, as we mourn the passing of this heroine of our struggle, let us reflect on her rich, remarkable and meaningful life.

Let us draw inspiration from the struggles that she fought and the dream of a better society to which she dedicated her life.

Today we have lost a mother, a leader and an icon.

May her soul rest in peace.

* ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENCY