LIVE: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela memorial

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Live coverage of the memorial service:

SOWETO, April 11 (ANA) – The late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had the spiritual words in her mind before she died, said her personal assistant Zodwa Zwane.

She told mourners of how Madikizela-Mandela insisted that she come to Soweto to see her on Saturday. Madikizela-Mandela attended her local Wesley Catholic Church on Easter Friday.

“She was in church for hours on Friday. She was so excited when I called her on Saturday morning…she started preaching to me on the phone about the sermon at church,” she said.

Madikizela-Mandela relayed the priest’s sermon and talked about how Jesus fell as he was dragged to the cross.

“The part that got to her was when Jesus fell…she said Zodwa I know the pain of falling, and when you stand up you see people’s faces and you long for your freedom…I know that pain Zodwa…please come over, let’s discuss this.”

When she got to her Soweto home, Madikizela-Mandela talked about Jesus’ last days.

“She said Zodwa, I don’t have tears anymore…sometimes you feel lonely in the midst of people because sometimes people you love are not there.”

Zwane says she understood Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema when he said Madikizela-Mandela was a “brick rejected by the builder”.

She said she was paying tribute to all previous personal assistants that worked for Madikizela-Mandela in mind. Zwane said no one could greet in a warm way like Madikizela-Mandela.

“She would make you feel comfortable, whoever you are. I was very excited to serve Mrs Mandela. I got home after the first interview and was thankful to God that I met and had a chat with her.”

Deputy President David Mabuza described the late anti-apartheid struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as a unifier who became a face of the struggles faced by black women all the world when delivering his eulogy.

“Her activism cuts across the distinctions of gender, race and class. She was committed to the attainment of all human rights for all people. Her only preoccupation was to serve humanity in its totality,” he said as he addressed mourners at the memorial service for former president Nelson Mandela’s second wife held at Orlando Stadium, Soweto.

“She triumphed to lead a life of reconciliation, and the reconstruction and renewal of our society.

He added that Madikizela-Mandela, who qualified as a medical social worker 60 years ago at the Jan  Hofmeyer School of Social Work, epitomised her profession in the way she lived her life through the height of apartheid.

“The need for more social workers of her calibre who will place the betterment of our society ahead of their personal well-being remains a necessity.”

Furthermore, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, praised the personal sacrifices that anti-apartheid struggle icon Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela made for the liberation of South Africa, referring to her as a “big tree” that “has fallen”.

“Fellow South Africans, a very big tree has fallen and our nation mourns. Mama Winnie will be remembered all over the world as the Mother of the Nation,” Buthelezi said.

“Mama Winnie didn’t know that her kids would be orphans when both of them were alive due to imprisonment. Her personal sacrifices for our freedom are celebrated all over. It is remarkable to see the women that Winnie’s daughters have become in spite of all their challenges. They are so like her in courage and resilience.”

Buthelezi said it was his late cousin, who was a bishop, that first used the title ‘Mother of the Nation’ to describe Madikizela-Mandela.

He was speaking at the official memorial service of Madikizela-Mandela where thousands of mourners gathered at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

“Winnie was more than just Madiba’s wife, she was a passionate ambassador of justice. She was prepared to walk the path of collision with injustice. I admired her tremendously. We express our sympathy to the family. I send my condolences to the President and the family of the ANC,” Buthelezi said.

“We will miss her in time to come. But the deeper sorrow is left for her family. May you find strength in the words of admiration coming from all corners of the world for your beloved mother.”

In the end, Buthelezi asked all the men in the stadium to stand and salute Mama Winnie with her clan name, “Ah, Nobandla”, a touching moment for many opposed to patriarchy as the salutation is usually reserved for men.

Earlier, hundreds of mourners have started arriving at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium on Wednesday morning for the national memorial service of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Roads in and around the stadium had been cordoned off by police to allow free movement as South Africans continued to bid farewell to the ‘Mother of the Nation’.

Mourners arrived waving ANC and South African flags, chanting revolutionary songs. Green, black and yellow colours of the governing ANC were draped on the stage inside the 40,000 seater venue.

Speakers include Deputy President David Mabuza who will deliver the keynote address, representatives of the Mandela and the Madikizela families and Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Musician and poet Mzwakhe Mbuli and the Soweto Gospel Choir will lead performances at the event.

Budding entrepreneurs lined the streets around the stadium precinct, selling food and ANC regalia to mourners. Street photographers roamed the stadium cashing in as mourners posed for pictures. Patrick Kgomo, 34 from Diepkloof said he charged R20 a photograph.

”I come to Orlando Stadium to work every time there is an event here, including soccer matches. People like taking photographs, I print them instantly for them so they walk away with hard copies as happy customers…this is what I do for a living,” he said.

Several memorial services have been held across the country in the past few days. President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a eulogy on Tuesday at the Eastern Cape official memorial service in Madikizela-Mandela’s home village of Mbizana. Madikizela-Mandela’s special funeral service will take place on April 14 at the same stadium, where Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy.

She will finally be laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Park, north of Johannesburg.

 

 

SABC’s coverage of the memorial service.