100 World Class South Africa: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

2013-06-24 12:00

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Unstoppable woman

Controversial, militant, loathed and loved equally, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s fall from grace has overshadowed her good work.

As the global face of SA’s ‘Struggle widows’, Winnie endured police harassment, night raids, detention without trial,house arrest and 18 months in solitary confinement.

She kept Mandela uppermost in the world’s mind for 30 years, but there’s more.

The first black social worker to graduate in SA, Madikizela-Mandela turned down a scholarship to study in the US to work at Baragwanath Hospital.

Later, banished to Brandfort for a decade, she set up a crèche, soup kitchen, mobile clinic and employment projects.

She helped the families of students involved in the 1976 Soweto uprising who had legal and medical problems.

In 1985 she received the Robert F Kennedy Humanitarian Award.

The same defiance she displayed at her husband’s trial – wearing traditional African dress to court and, when this was banned, ANC colours – has seen her refuse to tow the party line in the new government, too.

Despite this, Madikizela-Mandela’s continued high-level status is due to her enduring people’s power.

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