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Thousands gather for funeral of Winnie Mandela

15 April 2018

Some ANC members started attempts to drown out Malema by booing and singing, but he continued and called on Soweto residents to never forget her name.

Mourners wore black, green and gold - colors of the ruling African National Congress political party.

Thousands of mourners crowded into a stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, where the campaigner was given a high-level send-off before her burial in Johannesburg. Madikizela-Mandela died April 2 at age 81. The debates, and complexities of the struggle icon are set to continue.

I stand here this morning to both mourn my mother and also, like you, to celebrate her life. She was always striving for equality, and to keep South Africa at the forefront of people's thoughts.

Also present at the service were South Africa's former presidents, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, as well as foreign dignitaries from Kenya, Namibia and Lesotho. "I'll propose that you be bestowed the highest honour of Seaparankwe Isithwalandwe", said Ramaphosa.

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She said Madikizela Mandela suffered at the brutality of the Apartheid government and humiliation.

Before her death, Winnie held several government jobs.

Madikizela-Mandela had been left to tend to her own pain alone, the president added. "What must we tell them", Malema asked, saying they were promised a quiet visit. "She had a very hard life".

"The pain inflicted on her lives forever even after her death".

A controversial figure, Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was lauded for her role in the anti-apartheid struggle.

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ANC supporters made up most of the crowd at the packed Orlando Stadium, but a significant number of EFF supporters attended the funeral. We see you in your lovely suits!

"There were times when people could not afford a funeral and she would assist", said neighbour Gloria Searole, 31, a service consultant who went to catch a glimpse of the procession along with her daughter.

"Let us honour her memory by pledging here that we will dedicate all our resources, all our efforts, all our energy to the empowerment of the poor and vulnerable".

Frequently referred to as the "Mother of the Nation" along with "ma ma Winnie", Madikizela-Mandela fought to maintain South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle at the global highlight although her partner, Nelson Mandela, had been imprisoned.

"I'm sorry Mama that your organisation delayed in according you its honour", Ramaphosa said. However, before that he greeted everyone, including the structures of the ANC, and declared: "President Cyril Ramaphosa was Mama Winnie's president. Too often we were not there for her as she tried to rise", he said. "Zenani's tears revealed Mama Winnie's wounds". She was a true inspiration for all the people in the world. "They wanted to see her broken, with bowed head and lowered eyes, and weakened by soulful cries, but still she rose", he said as he delivered the eulogy for Madikizela-Mandela. "It was a spear that throughout the darkest moments of our struggle she wielded with great courage".

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For years, she was routinely harassed by apartheid-state security forces, imprisoned and tortured. "You deserve to be awarded the Speararankoe", he said. "They are crying the loudest, more than us - who died for you", Malema said, before lambasting those who he believed had wronged the struggle veteran. EFF leaders encouraged their members to act with discipline during the funeral.

Thousands gather for funeral of Winnie Mandela