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IFP remembers late Princess Irene Buthelezi for her courage, resilience

South Africans have shared photographs and fond memories of the late wife of IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, with many describing her as a pillar of strength.

FILE: IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his wife Irene at a polling station near Ulundi where they voted. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says the late Princess Irene Buthelezi remained kind and forgiving while playing an important political role.

South Africans have shared photographs and fond memories of the late wife of IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, with many describing her as a pillar of strength.

She died on Monday in KwaZulu-Natal after a long and difficult illness.

Even though she was married to Mangosuthu for 67 years, Buthelezi was known as a freedom fighter in her own right. She also played an important role in leading the IFP’s women-driven economic programmes.

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the party honoured the princess for her courage, resilience and endless patience.

“We want to re-emphasise that we are with him as a family during this very difficult time and for them to actually know that they are not alone in this grief.”

Hlengwa said she remained kind and forgiving while playing an important political role.

"History will also reflect that she took part in the 1950s defiance campaign and therefore the IFP salutes her contribution in the struggle."

The party noted that it was during the dark days of Aids denialism that Princess Irene took a strong stand to destigmatise the illness, when she and her husband shared that two of their children had died of Aids-related diseases.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)