Winnie Mandela died aged 81

Nelson Mandela’s former wife and anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie dies aged 81

Winnie had been in and out of hospital since January

Emmy Griffiths

Winnie Mandela, iconic anti-apartheid campaigner and known as 'the Mother of the Nation' in South Africa, has passed away at the age of 81. The former wife of Nelson Mandela passed away on Monday after a long illness, and her family released a statement confirming the sad news, which read: "It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Nectar MiIlpark Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday 2nd of April 2018. 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."

Winnie passed away aged 81

After speaking about her incredible achievements, including supporting Nelson during his imprisonment and fighting against the Apartheid, the statement concluded: "The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing, we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman." Details regarding memorial and funeral services are to be confirmed.

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Admirers of Winnie were quick to pay their respects on Twitter, with one writing: "South Africa is heartbroken again. We are in mourning. RIP Winnie Mandela. A liberation icon who has inspired and empowered so many to fight against oppression and hate!" Another added: "My deepest condolences to the Mandela Family for the passing away of the mother of our nation, Winnie Mandela. She served our nation with distinction. May her soul rest in peace." Winnie and Nelson married in 1958, divorced in 1998 and shared two daughters, Zindziswa and Zenani. Nelson passed away in 2013 after suffering from a a prolonged respiratory infection.

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