Madikizela-Mandela laid to rest

Members of the South African military carry the coffin of long-time activist Winnie Mandela who was laid to rest in a state funeral

South Africa's liberation struggle icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who was once married to former President Nelson Mandela, was laid to rest here on Saturday with full military honours.

Isithwalandwe is the highest honour awarded to South Africans for their outstanding contribution and sacrifice to the liberation struggle.

"You [Madikizela-Mandela] trusted that your mission of putting the country first was embraced by an organisation that you loved; but Mama, you did not know that your organisation had been rendered incapable of loving you back", said Malema. She warned the "hypocrites" who hid the truth and marginalised her mother.

"Equally big Mama, some of those who sold you to the regime are here and are crying louder than all of us who stood by you".

Mourners sang and cheered as Madikizela-Mandela's body was brought into the Orlando stadium where the funeral service was taking place.

Ramaphosa said Madikizela Mandela provided leadership at the most hard time and never demanded a reward. "She represents a fighting spirit because, even though she lived through the apartheid era, she never gave up", said 20-year old college student Gift Mokale.

She also questioned why men in the struggle weren't subjected to the same scrutiny, and said, "double standards obscure the enormous efforts of women" in the struggle.

In 1991, a court found Madikizela-Mandela guilty of the boy's kidnapping and assault and sentenced her to six years in jail.

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They were accused of the disappearances and killings of at least 18 boys and young men and the group's leader was convicted of killing a 14-year-old boy, nicknamed "Stompie", who was accused of being a police informer.

"It was a spear that, throughout the darkest moments of our struggle, she wielded with great courage, unequivocal commitment and incredible skill", he said.

Namibian President Hage Geingob praised the late Mother of the Nation for her determination and for never surrendering while being persecuted by the enemy. Recalling a recent conversation with her daughter Zenani Dlamini, he said she cried when she said her mother had lived a hard life. And as each of them disavowed these lies, I had to ask myself: 'Why had they sat on the truth and waited till my mother's death to tell it?' It is so disappointing to see how they withheld their words during my mother's lifetime, knowing very well what they would have meant to her.

He said he felt pain when her elder daughter Zenani related her mother's suffering and how she lived a very hard life.

The coffin, which was draped in a South African flag, was met by crowds who gathered on the streets ahead of the service to say a final farewell to the late Member of South African Parliament.

"She felt compelled to organise, to mobilise, to lead when those who led our people had been sent across the bay to the (Robben) Island, while others were forced to flee beyond our borders or were martyred by a state that knew no mercy. It is important to honour her and continue the fight".

During Mandela's 27-year incarceration for his fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and for the rights of black South Africans undergoing detention, banishment and arrest. Madikizela-Mandela denied knowledge of nearly any killings. She was one of you.

The funeral procession leaves the Orlando Stadium.

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