Fearless in the face of the apartheid police state, she became the increasingly iconic representative of Nelson Mandela.
Madikizela-Mandela later described her marriage as a sham and the birth of their two daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, as "quite coincidental" to her one true love - the struggle against white rule.
She was married to the late Nelson Mandela for 38 years, but he spent more than two-thirds of that time in prison. In 1985, she journeyed to Soweto with hopes to end the brutality in the Johannesburg neighborhood.
"I feel so sad to learn of Winnie Mandela's death". It's been told in books as well as the Hollywood movie "Winnie", starring Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.
Madikizela-Mandela had been in and out of hospital these last few months, with her last hospitalisation for a kidney infection. "The story of South African can not be told without mentioning Winnie Mandela", she said. "Winnie is someone I respect highly", Machel once said. I just felt this excruciating pain. Many leaders within the ANC had been forced into exile for fear of losing their lives, murdered or imprisoned alongside her husband.
Madikizela-Mandela was regularly detained, tortured and placed under house arrest by the apartheid regime.
They were married for 38 years but were separated for nearly three decades of that time due to Mandela's imprisonment. "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". "As many of you know, she remained in Soweto and was worshiping in Soweto, even on Sunday", said Rivas.
President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Monday, April 2 describing her as a woman of uncommon determination.
Winnie had made peace with her ex-husband before he died.
"Together, hand in hand, with our matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country".
Mama Winnie, your legacy will live on.
Moeketsi was kidnapped along with three other boys by her bodyguards in 1988 and his body was found in January 1989. Her initial six-year jail term was reduced to a fine on appeal. Madikizela-Mandela steadfastly denied any knowledge of any killings, leading the judge in that case to brand her "an unblushing liar". Despite the hardship she faced‚ she never doubted that the struggle for freedom and democracy would triumph and succeed.
Two years after his release in 1990, the marriage crumbled as her reputation crumbled, accused of conducting a reign of terror in parts of Soweto.
She kept his name, adding her maiden name.
"In addition to her work as social worker, she also was a political activist. He loved her to the end". She called out the ANC and their failures and refused to abandon the black children as so many of her comrades had done.