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#WinnieMandela: Timeline of a legend

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died at the age of 81. Picture: Independent Archives

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died at the age of 81. Picture: Independent Archives

Published Apr 3, 2018


Pretoria - Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died on Monday following a long illness. She was 81.

Here are some key points from the struggle stalwart's life:

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• Born on September 26, 1936 in Bizana, Eastern Cape. She was the fourth of eight children. Her Xhosa name is Nomzamo (“she who tries”). 

• Her parents, Columbo and Gertrude, were teachers. Her father taught history and her mother domestic science. 

• In 1953, she moved to Joburg and was admitted to the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work. She completed her degree in social work in 1955, finishing at the top of her class. She then took the position of medical social worker at the Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, making her the first qualified black member of staff to fill that post.

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• She met lawyer Nelson Mandela in 1957 when she was 22 at a bus stop in Soweto. They married the following year and had two daughters, Zenani in 1959 and Zindziwa in 1960. 

• Her husband was arrested in 1963 and imprisoned from August that year to February 1990. Winnie was slapped with a banning order restricting her movements to Joburg.

• In June 1963 Winnie made her first visit to Nelson who was incarcerated on Robben Island.

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• In 1965, a new and more severe banning order was handed to Winnie that allowed her to move around only in her neighbourhood of Orlando West.

• In 1969 she spent 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. 

• In May 1973, Winnie was arrested again, for meeting with banned photographer Peter Magubane. She was handed a 12-month sentence to be served at Kroonstad women’s prison.

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• In 1977 she was banned to the town of Brandfort in the Free State for eight years and only on occasions allowed to visit her husband on Robben Island. She returned from exile in 1986. 

• In 1990 she was at Mandela’s side when he was released after 27 years in prison.

• By the time Madiba became president in May 1994, they had been separated for two years. They divorced in March 1996, after which she adopted the surname Madikizela-Mandela. 

• At the end of her ban she started the Mandela United Football Club, a group of youngsters known to be involved in vigilante attacks. The attacks included the death of 14-year-old James “Stompie” Seipei, who was accused of being an informant, in 1988.

• In 1991 she was convicted of kidnapping “Stompie”. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal. 

• Winnie appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997, which judged her to have been implicated in a number of assaults and murders carried out by the Mandela United Football Club .

• In December 1993 and April 1997 she was elected president of the ANC Women’s League. 

• In 2001 she was involved in a scuffle with former president Thabo Mbeki when she arrived late for an ANC event.

• In 2002 she was re-elected to the ANC executive.

• In April 2003 she was convicted on 43 charges of fraud and 25 of theft related to money taken from a funeral fund. She was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, but in 2004, on appeal, her theft conviction was overturned. Her prison sentence for fraud was suspended. 

• Shortly after her conviction she resigned from all leadership positions in the ANC and gave up her parliamentary seat.

Pretoria News

Also read:

#WinnieMandela: We must never forget her sacrifices

#WinnieMandela: Controversial Mother of the Nation

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