President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela for her determination and courage during the toughest times of apartheid.

Addressing the nation on SABC‚ Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela faced serious challenges during the apartheid era but never gave up the dream of a free South Africa.

“In the face of exploitation‚ she was champion of justice and equality. Throughout her life she made an everlasting contribution to the struggle through sacrifice and her unyielding determination. Her dedication to the plight of her people gained her the love and the respect of the nation.

“For many years‚ she bore the blunt of the senseless brutality of the apartheid state with stoicism and fortitude. Despite the hardship she faced‚ she never doubted that the struggle for freedom and democracy would triumph and succeed. She remained throughout her life a tireless advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalised. She was the voice for the voiceless‚” Ramaphosa said.

He then urged South Africans to reflect on Madikizela-Mandela’s “rich‚ remarkable and meaningful life”.

“Let us draw inspiration from the struggles that she fought and the dream of a better society to which she dedicated her entire life. Today‚ we have lost a mother ‚ a grandmother‚ a friend‚ a comrade‚ a leader and an icon. As South Africans we collectively pass our condolences to the Madikizela and Mandela families. Your loss is our loss as well‚” Ramaphosa said.

Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on Monday.

Mandela family spokesman‚ Victor Dlamini‚ said: “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.”

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