Winnie Madikizela Mandela

Johannesburg - Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the former wife of late statesman Nelson Mandela, has died, a family spokesperson confirmed on Monday.

Madikizela Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital on Monday following a long illness. She was 81

A family spokesperson in a statement confirmed the death of the struggle icon. 

"It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday the 2nd of April 2018. 

"She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones."

The statement further added that: "Madikizela Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against Apartheid. She fought valiantly against the Apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. 

READ MORE: Winnie Madikizela Mandela hospitalised

"Her activism and resistance to Apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions, eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State."

The Mandela family went on to express gratitude for "the gift of her life "and urged all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.

The family confirmed it would release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.