By Nomvelo Chalumbira
SOWETO, South Africa (Reuters) – South Africa put an end to the heroine against apartheid Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Saturday, after 40,000 people across the political spectrum mourned her at a funeral ceremony in her Soweto municipality.
The death of Madikizela-Mandela on April 2 at the age of 81 years after a long illness was met with an outpouring of emotion throughout the country, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties commemorating courage in the struggle to end the government of the white minority.
The official funeral of the late wife of the late Nelson Mandela took place Saturday morning in Soweto, the municipality of Johannesburg at the forefront of the battle against apartheid where she lived.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said that, like South Africa, he suffered because of the profound meaning of his life.
"In death, she has shown that our many differences throughout political parties and racial lines and the many disputes we may have are overshadowed by our shared desire to follow her example in building a society fair, equitable and affectionate, "he said.
"Out loud and unapologetically, she told the truth, and those in power were those who, insecure and fearful, visited her with the most vengeful and insensitive retribution, but through it all, she endured. They could not silence her. "
The afternoon burial ceremony at Fourways Memorial Park cemetery, north of Johannesburg, put an end to a government-declared mourning period of almost two weeks.
Previously, the mourners sang and cheered as Madikizela-Mandela the body was taken to the Orlando stadium with a capacity for 40,000 people, full to capacity for the funeral service.
Many of the attendees were dressed in the green and yellow colors of the ANC. Members of the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party also attended in large numbers.
EFF leader Julius Malema, an admirer of Madikizela-Mandela who echoes his fiery rhetoric, said he had always put the country "above his own personal safety" in the fight against apartheid.
"He lived in constant naked contact with danger, prepared to lose his life, including the lives of his own children, who were put in danger by his political activities," Malema said shouting at the stadium.
"STRUGGLING AGAINST THE SPIRIT"
During Mandel's 27 year imprisonment for his struggle against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and for the rights of the black South Africans subjected to arrest, exile and arrest.
"I appreciate many things about her, she represents a fighting spirit because, although she survived the apartheid era, she never gave up," said Gift Mokale, a 20-year-old university student. here today "
Also present in the funeral service were former presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, dignitaries of African countries and celebrities such as British supermodel Naomi Campbell and American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
For many South Africans, the most memorable image of Madikizela-Mandela is of her punching the air as she walked hand in hand with Mandela outside Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, on February 11, 1990 .
For husband and wife, it was a culminating moment that led four years later to the end of centuries of white domination when Mandela became the first black president of South Africa.
The legacy of Madikizela-Mandela, however, became blurred later.
As evidence emerged in recent years of apartheid from the brutality of its Soweto agents, known as the "Mandela United Football Club", some South Africans questioned his nickname of "Mother of the Nation".
In 1991, Madikizela-Mandela was found guilty of kidnapping and assault accomplice, but her six-year prison sentence was reduced to a fine and a two-year conditional sentence on appeal.
(Written by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Kevin Liffey Edition)