Mourners gather in Orlando stadium before the funeral of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Soweto. Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
Johannesburg -  As South Africans gathered to bid a final farewell to struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, they were encouraged to draw lessons from the strength she displayed during the toughest of times.

These were the words of Small Business and Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu at the funeral of Madikizela-Mandela, taking place at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto.

Speaking ahead of the service, Zulu paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela's memory.

"Mama is going home finally, she is going to rest. But she's a rising Sun for those of us left behind.

"I think that we need to learn lessons from her; how she became strong and how withstood all the challenges from the apartheid government."

Zulu added that while the day was a sombre and painful one, it was also one of celebration for who Madikizela-Mandela was.

She described Madikizela-Mandela as someone who knew what she stood for and her role in the struggle. 

Madikizela-Mandela's funeral service is expected to begin at 8 am and is expected to last for four hours at the iconic stadium.

After the service, the procession will leave at 12 pm along the N1 highway until William Nicol and would turn into Witkoppen Road and right into Cedar Road.

It would continue on Cedar until to the road leading to the Fourways Memorial Park.

Only dignitaries will be allowed to the cemetery to view the moment her coffin as it is lowered to the ground.