Thousands gather for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela memorial

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Bambatha said for all these contributions, Madikizela-Mandela should be honoured and respected.

Many at the 40,000-seat stadium wore T-shirts bearing Ms Mandikizela-Mandela's image.

"As a mother I can imagine Winnie Mandela would have made decisions at any time, for what to prioritise; her children, or the children of South Africa".

In his meeting today, Deputy President Mabuza thanked leaders of political parties for their unwavering support and commitment to honour Mama Madikizela-Mandela and the conduct of various members of the public displayed at various memorial events taking place throughout the country.

Unlike many struggle-era leaders who moved from townships like Soweto to formerly white suburbs after apartheid fell, Winnie Mandela remained embedded in the community where she met Nelson Mandela at a bus stop in 1957.

Duarte said Madikizela-Mandela never betrayed the revolution and up to her last day, she wanted a united ANC.

One of them who identified himself as Zazi said his great-grandmother was "the best, a great fighter. we all loved her".

Erasmus was speaking ahead of the screening of an explosive documentary entitled Winnie, which exposes how the apartheid government feared Madikizela-Mandela to the extent that they orchestrated a covert strategic communications operation, the objective of which was to tarnish her image domestically and internationally.

Minister Dlamini-Zuma reported that government has since declared days of mourning from 3 April 2018 leading up to the funeral on Saturday, 14 April 2018.

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She was often away from her two daughters with Mr Mandela, and in 1977 she was banished to a remote town in the middle of the country to separate her from the heart of the movement she led in Soweto.

"Mama Mandela was very methodical".

Those years of harassment and stress were not without their toll.

But Mandela was also a convicted kidnapper and fraudster.

She appealed and was found guilty of being an accessory in the assault, and the sentence was reduced to a fine and a suspended prison term. Madikizela-Mandela steadfastly denied any knowledge of any killings.

Though she fought fiercely for democracy, the political career that Ms Madikizela-Mandela embarked on after the first free elections in 1994 floundered.

"She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one of its most recognizable faces", the statement said. Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi asked during the memorial.

"For those of you who are still trying to drag the name of uMakhulu‚ archbishops and chiefs alike‚ the people are angry‚" Bambatha said.