#WinnieMandelaMemorial: Family thanks South Africans for support

The official memorial for the struggle stalwart got underway on Wednesday at Orlando stadium in Soweto.

Deputy President David Mabuza is seen on the main stage with family members of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during the memorial service the late struggle stalwart. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The family of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has described her as a true leader, not only in her home but to the country at large.

The official memorial for the struggle stalwart got underway on Wednesday at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Most of the supporters are in ANC regalia, but there’s also a patch of red on the stands. These are EFF supporters.

More Cabinet ministers and dignitaries could be seen arriving, including Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, ministers Zweli Mkhize and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and diplomats.

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane welcomed the Madikizela-Mandela family and all others attending the service.

AbaThembu leader chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima spoke on behalf of the Mandela family.

He started off by thanking South Africans for the support they have given the family.

“When you have a bereavement, you will always look around to people for support. We did receive that support since the day the news was broken. We must thank you. We must also thank the government and the ANC for the support we received, as well as all political parties who came to the house to give the family the support they required.”

He also took some time to speak about Madikizela-Mandela as a leader.

Eyewitness News spoke to UDM leader Bantu Holomisa ahead of proceedings. He has described Madikizela-Mandela as a fearless, selfless and caring leader.

“Mama Winnie was a leader. She led both men and women. If those she was leading did not toe the line, she would speak to them directly. Unfortunately, in her career, she spoke truth to power and sometimes this approach brought her into trouble.”

Madikizela-Mandela’s great-grandchildren delivered a moving tribute to the late struggle stalwart, saying they loved and cherished her.

Each child had a chance to take the microphone and tell South Africans what they loved about their grandmother.

There were some emotional moments.

While some people clapped and praised the children for having “Madikizela-Mandela’s courage”, others shed some tears.

“She was the best we could have. She tried and how she tried was the best. We all love her. Thank you for being the greatest gogo.”

Another adds: “My great grandmother was the best. If she was here, she would have loved everyone.”

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi of the IFP and the ANC’s Jessie Duarte are expected to address mourners.

The struggle icon, affectionately known as the “mother of the nation”, died at the age of 81 on 2 April.

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(Edited by Shimoney Regter)