Winnie an indestructible rock against apartheid - Mabuza

Deputy President David Mabuza and Zenani Mandela at Orlando Stadium (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)
Deputy President David Mabuza and Zenani Mandela at Orlando Stadium (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)

Deputy President David Mabuza has paid tribute to fallen struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and described her as an indestructible rock against apartheid and a special person, who sacrificed her life for the whole nation despite being treated with contempt. 

He hailed her for committing her life to fighting injustice and racism, inspiring women and young girls and caring for the poor.

"Till death, you knew who your enemy was. Racial domination, class exploitation, gender oppression," he said.

He was speaking at the official memorial service held for Madikizela-Mandela at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Madikizela-Mandela passed away on April 2 in hospital.

The service was attended by thousands of people. 

Her family, including her daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, as well as her grandchildren and great grandchildren also attended the service. The two sisters sat quietly on the stage and appeared sombre throughout the five-hour event.

READ: 'I'm here as a friend of Mama Winnie' – De Lille at EFF memorial

Mabuza, who joined a long list of speakers, delivered a poetic tribute to Madikizela-Mandela and highlighted that future generations would miss out as they would never get the opportunity to experience her strength.

"Unborn babies will envy us for our blessing of having seen, touched, and felt the love of you Nomzamo wesizwe (of the nation). Nomzamo wethu (our Nomzamo), only newborn babies will open our eyes to the true wonder and fortune of our generation," said Mabuza.

"They will say blessed are we who in our lifetime had a fine-looking African goddess living in our midst," the deputy president continued.

'Workers of our land'

Mabuza, in illustrating the love and concern the Mother of the Nation had for the poor, spoke about her efforts to privately raise funds for the family of 5-year-old Lumka Mketwa, who died after falling into a pit toilet last month. Mketwa hailed from the struggle icon's hometown of Bizana in the Eastern Cape.

"A true friend of the workers of our land, she would never dare humiliate the poor or treat them with contempt when they sought her help," he said.

He added that the most vulnerable people could always trust her with their pain and suffering.

"They knew that only in her heart would they compose headlines about her kindness," said the deputy president.

Several political parties were at the memorial, including leaders and supporters from the African National Congress, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Inkatha Freedom Party, Azapo and the Pan Africanist Congress.

The EFF, which held its own memorial service for Madikizela-Mandela in Brandfort, was represented by its deputy president, Floyd Shivambu. 

Supporters, wearing ANC and EFF T-shirts, who held party flags up high, united in song and dance throughout the memorial and praised the global icon as the Soweto Gospel choir entertained the crowd.

Her grandchildren and great grandchildren also spoke, reducing some in the stadium to tears, as they defended her legacy and spoke of the love and care the woman they called "Big Mamma" had.

Mabuza told the crowd that Madikizela-Mandela played a critical role in the empowerment of women. 

"In life, you reminded our daughters and mothers that it is them who are powerful beyond measure," he said.

"You taught young women across the nation that they are just as capable, if not more capable, of standing shoulder to shoulder with men and being totally unapologetic about it," he added.

"Because you were the tender heart of poets and sweet melody of musicians, in a thousand years our children will return here and say: 'We love you without reservation Winnie Madikizela Mandela'."

She will be buried on Saturday at the Fourways Memorial Park cemetery after her funeral service, which will also take place at Orlando Stadium.

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