Johannesburg - The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) has joined millions of South Africans in paying tribute to the late Struggle icon and ANC veteran Winnie Mandela following her passing on Monday.
BLA president Lutendo Sigogo said his legal fraternity was doing so as they were aware of her role in the struggle for the liberation of the economically marginalised Africans both in South Africa and the diaspora.
“Her values in this regard mirrors those of the BLA,” Sigogo said.
Sigogo said while many may remember her merely as a wife to former President Nelson Mandela, BLA would recall her as a cadre “who dug her own trench in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa from which she operated apart and independent of her role as a wife”.
“During the dark decade of the eighties, she stood as a candle in the wind against the illegitimate and minority apartheid government which banned, tortured and humiliated her endlessly and mercilessly,” Sigogo said.
He said amid her difficulties and pain, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela brought hope to a large section of the youth movement and proved to many that the idea of freedom was not a “pipe dream” but a goal worth struggling and dying for.
“Through her unwavering leadership, she managed to organise ANC’s underground cells and nucleus at the time when the ANC was banned."
“It is on this basis and sacrifices of many other comrades that our people did not lose hope for triumph over apartheid,” Sigogo said.
He said Winnie as a graduate of Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work, she rejected a scholarship which would have taken her to the major capitals of World but she chose instead to pursue her craft in the country.
Sigogo said her decision to remain in the country brought her into direct confrontation with the harsh realities in which her people lived.
“She defied all established social protocols and transcended all line of social distinction in order to forever be close to the people she loved, the downtrodden masses of our people."
“Amid all the injustices she suffered, she never wavered in her effort to pull closer the frontiers of freedom for the oppressed majority of country,” he said.
Sigogo further said Winnie soldiered on despite that some of her trusted people betrayed her and the movement throughout the struggle phase
“She sacrificed the comfort of her own children in order to achieve freedom or many,” Sigogo maintained.