JOHANNESBURG, April 14 (ANA) – Residents of Soweto in Johannesburg chanted alongside struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s casket as it was transported out of her beloved township Orlando on Saturday.
Mourners chanted while raising fists in the air. Others stood and saluted as the vehicle carrying the casket drove past after the official funeral service at Orlando Stadium.
Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral was an emotional send off as speakers paid tribute to her legacy, with President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledging the failure by the governing African National Congress to stand by her side when she faced a barrage of allegations and court cases. Ramaphosa dedicated Maya Angelo’s popular poem ”Still I rise” to Madikizela-Mandela, saying the poem could have easily been written to describe the life of the anti-apartheid struggle hero.
The “mother of the nation”, as she was affectionately known, will be buried at Fourways Memorial Park, north of Johannesburg. The burial at the cemetery will be a private service for the family and a few dignitaries.
”As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone. The day after she died, the ANC’s top six leaders went to her home to pay our condolences to her family. [Eldest daughter] Zenani Mandela, reflecting on her mother’s life and overcome by emotion, said ‘My mother suffered. She had a very difficult life’, then she burst into tears. That statement and those tears have stayed with me since that day,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that Madikizela-Mandela was left to tend to her own pain alone. ”Left alone to fend for herself only caused her more pain. But she touched our wounds all the time. When we lost our loved ones, when people were in pain, overcome with anger, prone to violence, she came to touch our wounds. She bore witness to our suffering. She bandaged our wounds… we did not do the same for her,” he said.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema went for the jugular, lambasting those in the ANC and the then United Democratic Front (UDF) members for being “sell-outs” by deserting Madikizela-Mandela during the height of apartheid and in the aftermath of the democratic dispensation.
The “sell-outs” included members of the ANC Women’s League national executive committee when it was led by Madikizela-Mandela in the 1990s, and who resigned “in droves” after accusing her of being a “criminal”, Malema said.
They included ANC top brass Nomvula Mokonyane, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the late Adelaide Tambo, Baleka Mbete, and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Ngcakula.
“Everyone is here, including some of those who sold out to the regime… they are here. They’re crying the loudest more than all of us… the UDF cabal is here, the same UDF that called a press conference when the regime was prepared to kill,” Malema said to loud cheers.
“They prevented you from addressing Peter Mokaba funeral despite the fact that you were ANCWL president… our cry as young activists for you to speak fell on deaf ears. All those who resigned from ANCWL NEC because they said they can’t be led by a criminal are here playing important roles at your funeral… can we trust them or should we treat them with suspicion, comrade Winnie?”
Madikizela-Mandela died on April 2 at Johannesburg’s Milpark Hospital. She was the ex wife of former president Nelson Mandela.