Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died on Easter Monday, aged 81, her personal assistant said today.
Her personal assistant Zodwa Zwane gave no further details but said a statement would be released later.
Earlier this year, Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife was hospitalized for a kidney ailment and exhaustion.
She was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital in January, after complaining of a ‘loss of appetite’ and that ‘one of her legs was painful’.
Ms Madikizela-Mandela had also been in and out of hospital since 2016 for back and knee surgery.
Ms Madikizela-Mandela married Nelson Mandela in 1956, six years before he was imprisoned for his fight against apartheid in 1962.
During her ex-husband’s 27-year imprisonment, Ms Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and the rights of black South Africans.
She became a symbol for the anti-apartheid struggle, undergoing arrest and banishment herself.
She walked side-by-side with her husband upon his 1990 release, and as he became South Africa’s president in the first post-apartheid elections.
IN 1996, Mandela divorced her and fired her as deputy minister of arts and culture, but she kept his name and stayed close to her ex-husband until his death.