Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie, walk hand-in hand-with their raised clenched fists upon Mandela's release from Victor Verster Prison in 1990.Picture: Greg English/AP
Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie, walk hand-in hand-with their raised clenched fists upon Mandela's release from Victor Verster Prison in 1990.Picture: Greg English/AP
Winnie Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu at FNB Stadium during the State Memorial Service for former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in 2013. Picture: GCIS
Winnie Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu at FNB Stadium during the State Memorial Service for former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in 2013. Picture: GCIS
Winnie Madikizela Mandela sits with the audience while vice president Thabo Mbeki and other ANC officials take the stage during an election victory party in Johannesburg in 1999.  Picture: Peter Dejong/AP
Winnie Madikizela Mandela sits with the audience while vice president Thabo Mbeki and other ANC officials take the stage during an election victory party in Johannesburg in 1999. Picture: Peter Dejong/AP
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela talks with Mosiuoa Lekota, right, former chairperson of the National Council of Provinces at Parliament in 1999. Picture: Obed Zilwa/AP
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela talks with Mosiuoa Lekota, right, former chairperson of the National Council of Provinces at Parliament in 1999. Picture: Obed Zilwa/AP
Winnie Mandela outside Victor Verster prison with Dullah Omar on 14 December 1988. Picture: Cape Times
Winnie Mandela outside Victor Verster prison with Dullah Omar on 14 December 1988. Picture: Cape Times
Nelson and Winnie Mandela show off their firstborn daughter, Zindzi, at their home in Orlando West, Soweto in 1961. Picture: Alf Khumalo/The Star
Nelson and Winnie Mandela show off their firstborn daughter, Zindzi, at their home in Orlando West, Soweto in 1961. Picture: Alf Khumalo/The Star
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the opening of the African National Congress Women's League conference in Rustenburg in April 1997.  Picture:WALTER DHLADHLA
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the opening of the African National Congress Women's League conference in Rustenburg in April 1997. Picture:WALTER DHLADHLA
Nelson and Winnie Mandela give back power salutes as they enter Soweto's Soccer City stadium on February 13, 1990, where 120 000 people packed the venue to hear his speech. Picture: Udo Weitz/AP
Nelson and Winnie Mandela give back power salutes as they enter Soweto's Soccer City stadium on February 13, 1990, where 120 000 people packed the venue to hear his speech. Picture: Udo Weitz/AP
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, raises her fist as she leaves the high court in Pretoria on July 5, 2004, after winning her appeal against a four-year jail term for alleged theft and fraud. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, raises her fist as she leaves the high court in Pretoria on July 5, 2004, after winning her appeal against a four-year jail term for alleged theft and fraud. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP
Mosiuoa Lekota, Winnie and Desmond Tutu in the front line during a Free Mandela demonstration in Cape Town in 1990. Picture: Cape Argus
Mosiuoa Lekota, Winnie and Desmond Tutu in the front line during a Free Mandela demonstration in Cape Town in 1990. Picture: Cape Argus
Malcolm X, Winnie Mandela and Jeff Radebe making a grand entrance at the SAMA awards held at Sun City Superbowl in 2005. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya
Malcolm X, Winnie Mandela and Jeff Radebe making a grand entrance at the SAMA awards held at Sun City Superbowl in 2005. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya
Winnie Mandela pictured in 1995 while fraud and corruption allegations against her were being investigated. Picture: Independent Media Archives
Winnie Mandela pictured in 1995 while fraud and corruption allegations against her were being investigated. Picture: Independent Media Archives
Winnie Madikizela Mandela (C), leading a march during a Women's Day rally in Pretoria in August 2000. Picture: Juda Ngwenya/Reuters
Winnie Madikizela Mandela (C), leading a march during a Women's Day rally in Pretoria in August 2000. Picture: Juda Ngwenya/Reuters
Thembu king Sabata Dalindyebo with Winnie Mandela. Picture: Mayibuye Centre
Thembu king Sabata Dalindyebo with Winnie Mandela. Picture: Mayibuye Centre
Winnie Mandela at the opening of Parliament in 1997. Picture: Brenton Geach
Winnie Mandela at the opening of Parliament in 1997. Picture: Brenton Geach
Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Nelson Mandela. Picture: Independent Media Archives
Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Nelson Mandela. Picture: Independent Media Archives
Winnie Mandela raises her fist after announcing massive pop concert will be held to mark the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela. Picture: Wendy Schwegmann/Reuters
Winnie Mandela raises her fist after announcing massive pop concert will be held to mark the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela. Picture: Wendy Schwegmann/Reuters
Members of the ANC Top 6 visit party stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at her house in Soweto earlier in 2018. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ANA Pictures
Members of the ANC Top 6 visit party stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at her house in Soweto earlier in 2018. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ANA Pictures
Winnie Madikizela Mandela raises her fist as she arrives for a rally at Olievenhoutbosch township outside Pretoria in 1999. Picture: Peter Andrews/Reuters
Winnie Madikizela Mandela raises her fist as she arrives for a rally at Olievenhoutbosch township outside Pretoria in 1999. Picture: Peter Andrews/Reuters
Nelson and Winnie Mandela. Picture: Independent Media Archives
Nelson and Winnie Mandela. Picture: Independent Media Archives
Winnie Mandela and Nelson Mandela with raising their fists at the Grand Parade after the release of Mandiba from Victor Verster prison in 1990. Picture: Brenton Geach
Winnie Mandela and Nelson Mandela with raising their fists at the Grand Parade after the release of Mandiba from Victor Verster prison in 1990. Picture: Brenton Geach
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at her 78th birthday party at her home in Vilakazi Street, Soweto. Picture: Paballo Thekiso
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at her 78th birthday party at her home in Vilakazi Street, Soweto. Picture: Paballo Thekiso
Nelson Mandela with his wife Mrs Graca Machel (left) and his former wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela at his 86th birthday party. Picture: Debbie Yazbek
Nelson Mandela with his wife Mrs Graca Machel (left) and his former wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela at his 86th birthday party. Picture: Debbie Yazbek
A 1986 file photo shows Winnie Mandela and Coretta Scott King, widow of American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in Soweto. Picture: Greg English/AP
A 1986 file photo shows Winnie Mandela and Coretta Scott King, widow of American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in Soweto. Picture: Greg English/AP
Winnie Mandela carries the coffin of activist William Kotoyi at his funeral in Brandfort on April 5, 1986.  Photo: AP
Winnie Mandela carries the coffin of activist William Kotoyi at his funeral in Brandfort on April 5, 1986. Photo: AP
Winnie Mandela, right, waits for a glimpse of her husband, Nelson Mandela, outside the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, on June 12, 1964, after Mandela and seven other high ranking ANC members had been convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. Picture: AP
Winnie Mandela, right, waits for a glimpse of her husband, Nelson Mandela, outside the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, on June 12, 1964, after Mandela and seven other high ranking ANC members had been convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. Picture: AP
Winnie Mandela, left, with her former husband Nelson Mandela, right, at a rally in Soweto, South Africa shortly after his release from 27 years in prison. Picture: AP
Winnie Mandela, left, with her former husband Nelson Mandela, right, at a rally in Soweto, South Africa shortly after his release from 27 years in prison. Picture: AP
Winnie Mandela attends the funeral ceremony of Nelson Mandela in Qunu. Picture: Odd Andersen/Reuters
Winnie Mandela attends the funeral ceremony of Nelson Mandela in Qunu. Picture: Odd Andersen/Reuters
Winnie Madikizela Mandela with Julius Malema and Cyril Ramaphosa at her 80th birthday celebration at Cape Town's Mount Nelson Hotel. Picture: Elmond Jiyane
Winnie Madikizela Mandela with Julius Malema and Cyril Ramaphosa at her 80th birthday celebration at Cape Town's Mount Nelson Hotel. Picture: Elmond Jiyane
Gauteng Premier David Makhura and President Cyril Ramaphosa visit Winnie Madikizela Mandela at her home in Soweto. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency(ANA)
Gauteng Premier David Makhura and President Cyril Ramaphosa visit Winnie Madikizela Mandela at her home in Soweto. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Winnie Madikizela Mandela, one of the most controversial figures in apartheid-era politics in South Africa, has died at the age of 81.

The veteran activist and former wife on Nelson Mandela has held a special place in the hearts of South Africans for decades. 

Left to raise a family on her own while her husband spent 27 years in prison for treason, Winnie made headlines both in South Africa and across the world for a number of controversies. She was also repeatedly banned and imprisoned by the apartheid security police.

Winnie's unique sense of style and wicked sense of humour endeared her to many. She was especially close to EFF leader Julius Malema, who was once the president of the ANC Youth League, and maintained strong ties to the ANC's leadership throughout the years.

Madikizela Mandela had been ill a long time before her death, but she still managed to celebrate her 80th birthday in style.

"I have to keep pinching myself to find out whether I am really still alive," said Madikizela Mandela at her 80th birthday party in Cape Town in 2016.

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