Supporters Sing in Honor of Winnie Mandela in Soweto

RAJESH JANTILAL  Getty Images                       South Africans gather to pay respect to Mam' Winnie during a candle vigil in Durban

RAJESH JANTILAL Getty Images South Africans gather to pay respect to Mam' Winnie during a candle vigil in Durban

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a eulogy on Tuesday at the Eastern Cape official memorial service in Madikizela-Mandela's home village of Mbizana.

A woman who was married into the Abathembu royal family on Wednesday relayed her story as she remembered Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. I will say South Africa must think of her as a human being. It is the first major event of remembrance for Madikizela-Mandela.

The memorial today will be followed by a Category 1 funeral on 14th April, also at the Orlando Stadium.

Winnie Madikizela was her own person leading a life where her husband wasn't the centre of her existence.

Mourners arrived waving ANC and South African flags, chanting revolutionary songs.

"She fought for us to get freedom".

Tonight a memorial service is being held at Wellington's St Peter's Anglican Church, to commemorate the woman known as South Africa's mother of the nation.

"Though you are gone from our human eye, the black fortress of human dignity can not be erased".

"You are a torch-bearer of our liberation". Can they credibly claim, as Winnie Mandela did, to be "the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy"? Afterwards I immersed myself in books and documentaries about her.

"While the facts are worth knowing, I want to know why she got up each morning for a nation that still has huge disparities between its people".

But who was Winnie Mandela and when is her funeral? To many outside of South Africa, she was being remembered primarily as the former wife of South African icon Nelson Mandela - and a puzzling figure who kept becoming embroiled in controversy and scandal. She had been in and out of prison and endured continuous harassment by the police while raising her children and fighting for ordinary citizens' rights at the same time.

Adult grandson Bambatha Mandela also paid a moving tribute to Madikizela-Mandela. The couple divorced in 1996, almost four decades after they were married. "She was pretty much neutralised by this and at the very least discredited", Erasmus revealed.

'She remained throughout her life a tireless advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalised.

Her convictions for kidnapping and fraud, and her reputation for overseeing violence in black townships, were brushed aside with tributes to her bravery, independence and integrity.

When Winnie Madikizela-Mandela - who died on 2 April at the age of 81 - spoke of "the enemy", the words had an intimate ring.

Glamorous and tough, she played a high-profile role in the battle to end repressive white-minority rule.

Winnie and Nelson separated in 1992 after the latter accused the former of infidelity and they divorced in 1996. "She was a great fighter", said one small girl.

The Winnie that he had left behind after four years of marriage and two little girls to fearless, by herself, the might of apartheid South Africa.

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