Mama Winnie was a heroine – De Lille

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. (Gallo images/Getty images)
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. (Gallo images/Getty images)

Flags will fly at half-mast on council-owned buildings in honour of struggle veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Cape Town. 

This was announced by Mayor Patricia De Lille as she lay flowers alongside Artscape Theatre CEO Marlene le Roux on Tuesday in the foyer of St George's Cathedral, where a collage of photos of the liberation struggle leader was displayed.

Madikizela-Mandela died on Monday at the age of 81 after a long illness.

READ: Madikizela-Mandela to be buried in Fourways - family

De Lille described her as "a real symbol of resistance".

"She will always be remembered as this heroine – she was so strong. There was one thing I admired her for – her determination," De Lille said.

"She didn't 'give up. With her passing and many of her generation not being with us anymore, [the lesson for us] is that we have to recommit ourselves [to continuing] to ensure that the values, the struggle that they fought for freedom is made a reality for more South Africans, especially the poorest of the poor."

'A woman of conviction'

She said she became good friends with Madikizela-Mandela, whom she described as loveable, with a "big, big, big, big heart", when they both became members of Parliament in 1994.

"We always used to talk about now being inside Parliament, the system that we fought against all our lives, and now being part of the system, how difficult it was psychologically to adjust to that."

The mayor's fondest memory of "Mama Winnie" was when she asked De Lille ahead of her maiden speech in Parliament if she should write it or "just go up and speak".

"When she got into Parliament and delivered that speech, it just came naturally. That is how we knew her. There was no pretence, it was just her. What you see is what you get. That was a fond memory I will always remember. I was there. I am actually going to get the [record out] and have a look at that first speech she made in Parliament in 1994."

WATCH: Malema on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela - the woman president SA didn't get

Le Roux, the head of the Artscape, where Madikizela-Mandela's 80th birthday concert was held, said the stalwart was an iconic woman, "a woman of conviction".

"She could see through people who didn't believe in justice, who just did it for the sake of money and for careers," she said.

"We had the honour while she was alive to tell her 'we love you and appreciate you'. We are not doing enough for our iconic persons that paved the way for SA, especially South African women. She stood up for her rights, she stood up for young women, and especially for the poor. And her legacy should be celebrated, but it can only be celebrated if we take the plight of the poor forward."

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