SAFTU mourns passing of Comrade Winnie Mandela



Winnie Mandela

The South African Federation of Trade Unions lowers its flags in honour of Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, one of the great revolutionary icons of the struggle for freedom and democracy.

Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela was a tireless fighter against apartheid. Although thrust into the spotlight partly as a result of her 38-year marriage to Nelson Mandela, she was always a struggle leader in her own right, who fearlessly confronted the apartheid regime.

She was detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in a condemned cell at Pretoria Central Prison before being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.

In 1969‚ she became one of the first detainees under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act of 1967 and later she was placed under house arrest for many years in Brandfort‚ a small town in the Free State.


After the first democratic election in 1994‚ Winnie Mandela became an MP and briefly served as deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology. She however remained an MP ever since.

She was a woman revolutionary, who was never prepared to be just Nelson’s wife but a fearless fighter, moulded in the struggle against apartheid and and a role model for women today. She will always be an inspiration for future generator of women revolutionaries.

At a time when so many leaders on the once proud African Nation Congress have been corrupted by the lure of personal wealth, it is more important then ever to remember the veterans of the past like Winnie Mandela who refused to bend under the yoke of the racist tyranny.

As shown by her experience of jail, persecution and trauma at the hands of the apartheid security apparatus and racist capitalists, she was made of a mould that will not easily be broken!

We have lost a gallant fighter in our people’s struggle of for their emancipation! Mama was no angel, just like everyone else, but she will always have a very special place in the hearts of millions. We love you mama!

Zwelinzima Vavi


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