Winnie Madikizela-Mandela shakes the hand of Ahmed Kathrada during an event in Lenasia several years ago. Photo: Supplied by Zaakirah Vadi / Ahmed Kathrada Foundation 

Cape Town - The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Monday night said the late Winnie Madikizela Mandela was one of several struggle activists who died over the past few months who were "sources of history that cannot be replaced".

“We wish her family and friends strength during this trying time and trust that they will bear this difficult period with courage,” said foundation director Neeshan Balton.

“News of her passing comes just a few days after the one year death anniversary of Ahmed Kathrada, and a few months after the passing of Laloo Chiba and Eddie Daniels. It deepens the sense of realisation that with their passing, we lose not only liberation activists, but sources of history that cannot be replaced.”

Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Milpark hospital in Johannesburg on Monday afternoon after a long illness. Kathrada, who was imprisoned with Madikizela-Mandela's ex husband Nelson Mandela for close to three decades, died March 28, 2017.

“Comrade Winnie and Ahmed Kathrada shared a strong sense of camaraderie and friendship that extended from before Kathrada’s imprisonment, when he became close to both the Sisulu and Mandela families,” said Derek Hanekom, foundation chairman and also a cabinet minister.

“For the broader South African public, Comrade Winnie became an iconic symbol against apartheid, and especially so at a time when the ANC and other liberation organisations were almost crushed. The struggle against apartheid was kept alive through the decades before democratic rule in South Africa in 1994 by Madikizela-Mandela's "militancy, courage and defiance", said Hanekom.

“In particular, she came to represent the struggle of black women against a system that saw them bearing the burden of a repressive regime. She inspired not only activists of her own generation, but those that succeeded her as well,” said Hanekom.

“Like with other iconic figures who contributed to our liberation struggle, the totality of her history and legacy will have to be reflected upon over time.”

African News Agency/ANA