In Summary
  • Mourners filled the stadium in the township of Soweto where Winnie lived and erupted into loud cheers as the casket carrying her remains was wheeled in.

  • In a moving, yet fiery eulogy, her daughter slammed her mother's critics.

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa offered an apology for the country's failure to honour Winnie for her contribution to the liberation of the country.

SOWETO,

South Africans turned out in thousands to bid final goodbyes to anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie Mandela who is being laid to rest with full state honours on Saturday.

Mourners filled the 37,500-seater Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto where Winnie lived and erupted into loud cheers as the casket carrying her remains was wheeled in.

The casket draped with the multi-coloured South African flag was placed in the middle of the 37,500-seater stadium in front of a stage, decked in white and yellow flowers.

Mourners dressed in the colours of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), as well those of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), sang "there's no-one like Winnie", an adapted popular liberation struggle song.

In a moving, yet fiery eulogy, her daughter slammed her mother's critics.

"It was my mother who kept his (Nelson Mandela's) memory alive," said a teary Zenani.

"South Africa, and indeed the world, holds men and women to different standards of morality."

She added that "praising her now that she is gone shows what hypocrites you are."

"They robbed my mother of her rightful legacy during her lifetime," she said of Winnie, who she praised for taking on "one of the most powerful and evil regimes of the past century".

REVOLUTIONARY

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office two months ago, offered an apology for the country's failure to honour Winnie for her contribution to the liberation of the country.

"I'm sorry Mama that your organisation (ANC) delayed in according you its honour. I'm sorry that we delayed this much, to this point," he said in an eulogy.

Firebrand opposition politician Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ANC, but who remained close to Winnie, said "she died a revolutionary... she never sold out".

As soon as speeches drew to a close, stormy clouds formed over the stadium, followed moments after by heavy rains that drenched mourners and the funeral procession as it drove out to a cemetery 40 kilometres away.

Mourners broke into another liberation song chanting in Xhosa: "this is the Winnie we know".

The ceremony concluded 10 days of national mourning during which time hundreds of thousands of South Africans have paid tribute to the "Mother of the Nation" at her Soweto home and elsewhere.

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