Anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela dies after a long illness. She was 81 years old.

The Mail & Guardian reports that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died at the “Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on Monday, April 2 after a long illness.”

Born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in 1936‚ she moved to Johannesburg to study social work after matriculating.

In 1957, she met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela and they married a year later and had two children together.

The marriage was short-lived‚ as he was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Mandela was eventually released in 1990. The couple later divorced and Nelson Mandela went on to marry again.

Winnie Mandela was the face of the struggle against apartheid, along with Nelson Mandela, for as far back as I can remember. Her legacy was marred amid allegations that she ordered her bodyguard, along with others, to kidnap four youths from Soweto. The boys were severely beaten and Stompie Moeketsi was murdered on January 1, 1989.

Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to the beatings. She was given a six-year jail sentenced, which was reduced to a two-year suspended sentence on appeal.

She was also accused of murdering Dr. Abu-Baker Asvat, a family friend who had examined Moeketsi, at her house before the young activist was murdered. It is said that Mandela paid thousands of dollars and supplied the firearm used in Asvat’s murder on January 27, 1989.

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