Winnie Madikizela-Mandela pictured at her grandson Zinhle Dlamini's graduation ceremony in Limpopo in 2009. PHOTO: Werner Beukes / SAPA

Cape Town - The leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane on Monday said the passing of Winnie Madikizela Mandela would be keenly felt across the political divide because she was principled and stood up for the truth.

"To the people of this country, certainly the continent and to freedom lovers all over the world, this is a sad day indeed. We've lost an icon. We've lost a freedom fighter. We've lost someone who regardless of the brutal apartheid system she fought against...always sought to bring us back to the values," said DA leader Mmusi Maimane, speaking on South African Broadcasting Corporation television.

Maimane said millions of South Africans owe Madikizela-Mandela gratitude for the sacrifices she made "so that today great deal of South Africans can know what freedom is".

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He said despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum, uMama Winnie would never be shy to tell the truth, adding that her beauty captivated many.

"Of course she was the most beautiful granny you could see."

Madikizela-Mandela, 81, passed away at the Milpark hospital in Johannesburg on Monday afternoon.

African News Agency/ANA