BREAKING: Winnie Mandela dies at 81

(BBC) – South African anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela has died aged 81, her personal assistant says.

Winnie Madikizela Mandela was the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

The couple – famously pictured hand-in-hand as Mr Mandela walked free from prison after 27 years – were a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle for nearly three decades.

She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country.

Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions, eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

In later years her reputation became tainted legally and politically. Her family are expected to release a statement later today.

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