Winnie Madikizela Mandela was a brave, courageous opponent of apartheid. She defied stereotypes and gave voice to the concerns and hopes of many black South Africans.
She suffered harassment, detention, abuse, torture, solitary confinement, internal exile and separation from those she loved including Nelson Mandela.
Apartheid was a crime against humanity. It also dehumanised people and Winnie Madikizela Mandela said herself her experience at the hands of the apartheid state had scarred her. She was not without fault but then none of us is and whilst not condoning some of her actions they need to be understood in the context they took place.
Many black South Africans saw in Winnie someone who stood up for them against white supremacy. She demonstrated that she was a strong, proud, black women who stated her beliefs and challenged the apartheid regime at great personal cost. Winnie was critical of the slow pace of economic and social transformation post 1994 and called for quicker and greater action to deal with historic injustices.
She will be remembered not only as the wife of the first President of free South Africa, but as a fierce opponent of apartheid and a liberator in her own right.