South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Winnie Mandela laid to rest

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Isithwalandwe is the highest honour awarded to South Africans for their outstanding contribution and sacrifice to the liberation struggle.

The official funeral service for the ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela was taking place on Saturday morning in Soweto - a Johannesburg township at the forefront of the battle against apartheid where she lived. In death, she has demonstrated that our many differences along political party and racial lines and the numerous disputes we may have are eclipsed by our shared desire to follow her lead in building a just, equitable and caring society.

"Equally, big Mama, some of those who sold you [out] to the regime are here and are crying louder than all of us who stood by you", said Malema. "That statement and those tears have stayed with me since that day", Ramaphosa said. Malema said Madikizela Mandela put the country first above her own personal safety.

He conceded that the ANC hasn't been there for her during the tumultuous times. Not long after, she met African National Congress activist Mandela and the couple married in 1958, forming one of the most storied unions of the century.

Ramaphosa said now was the time to heal the wounds of the past.

Madikizela-Mandela was largely remembered for defiantly standing up to the apartheid government and relentlessly pushing the ANC's struggle for freedom.

She vowed she had no part in the murders, when appearing before Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, and she was later given a fine.

It will be Ramaphosa's first visit to the area following the Marikana massacre that saw over 40 people being killed by the police. Mama, you have run your race. We were still supposed to do a lot of things together.

At my mother's 80th birthday in September 2016, I said: 'One day, the story of how you fought back so valiantly against that awful and powerful regime will be told.

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As leaders from across the globe paid glowing tribute to Winnie Mandela, the family sought to come clean, accusing the government and the media of being hypocritical in their praises for the fallen hero.

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"Mama Winnie's life was about service, service to her people".

"She danced witness to our suffering".

- President Cyril RamaphosaShe felt compelled to organise, to mobilise, to lead when those who led our people had been sent across the bay to the Island, whilst others were forced to flee beyond our borders or were martyred by a state that knew no mercy. "She fought from beginning to the end. When it was safe to do so, the men took over again and the women were relegated to a supporting role", Ramaphosa said.

'The years of imprisonment hardened me, ' she said. Even though I didn't know her in person, we love our mother. Mam' Winnie was universal and timeless. She said, Zenani added, "My mother's life was a remarkable one".

Ramaphosa asked South Africans to honour the stalwart by uniting.

"She kept the memories of our father alive. Let us honour her memory by pledging here that we will not betray the trust of her people, we will not squander or steal their resources, and that we will serve them diligently and selflessly", he said.

"The pain inflicted on her lives on in us", she said, with her sister Zindzi standing next to her at the podium. Proud, defiant, articulate, she exposed the lie of apartheid. They could not break her. She has been found guilty of being an accessory from the attack, and also also the sentence had been reduced to some nice and jail term. "She was an exceptional woman, she was fearless".

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