Mama Winnie was 'indeed a saint' – Buthelezi

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi in Orlando Standium (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi in Orlando Standium (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was indeed a saint, said IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the memorial service for the late struggle icon and Mother of the Nation.

Buthelezi, who was loudly greeted by a group of IFP supporters in the stands of the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday, mentioned the outpouring of tributes to Madikizela-Mandela from all over the world.

"I can only speak of the woman I knew, the woman who welcomed me in her home in Vilakazi Street here in Orlando when I visited her husband."

He said even then she was more than just Nelson Mandela's wife. 

"She was a passionate and lively ambassador for justice." 

Paul Mashatile, who, along with Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, was programme director, had to ask sections of the crowd to quiet down during Buthelezi's speech.  

The loss of simple joys

Buthelezi spent a large part of his speech paying tribute to Madikizela-Mandela's daughters Zindziswa and Zenani Mandela. 

"With everything that she suffered for freedom, her greatest loss was surely the simple joy of being a mother to her children," said Buthelezi. 

READ: 'Don't act like ungrateful children' - Mam' Winnie's grandson to her detractors

He said she married Mandela while he was on trial for high treason and under a banning order. 

"What she did not know is that her children would forfeit both their parents."

He said they were babies when their father was imprisoned and they had to watch their mother's endless persecution while growing up. 

"How easily they could have drowned in their tears, yet the generosity of spirit that lived in their mother, found a home in her daughters too.

The stone rejected by the builders

"Umama Madikizela-Mandela was scarred by injustice," he said.

"Some ask: was she a sinner or was she a saint?"

He said he would answer the question.

"I believe, as Madiba did, that a saint is not someone who never sinned, a saint is merely a sinner who tried."

He said the outpouring of love in the country since her passing told him that "she is indeed a saint".

"Yes, fellow mourners, a big tree has fallen, but its fruit is not scattered," he concluded.

Before Buthelezi spoke, Madikizela-Mandela's personal assistant since 2007, Zodwa Zwane, delivered an emotional speech. 

She said it was exciting to serve Madikizela-Mandela. 

"I stand before you representing kitchen staff, protectors, gardeners and nurses and past PAs," she said.

She described Madikizela-Mandela as a friend, a mother and a boss.

She said she understood what EFF leader Julius Malema meant when he said Madikizela-Mandela was the stone that was rejected by the builders. However, she said Madikizela-Mandela was proud of the ANC. 

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