Winnie Mandela's funeral: All you need to know

Struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela Mandela smiles as she leaves the Nelson Mandela foundation after a memorial briefing for anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada on 28 March 2017

Thousands of mourners flocked Wednesday to the heart of South Africa's sprawling Soweto township, a center of anti-apartheid resistance, to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela's former wife and struggle hero Winnie Mandela.

I read how she often gave shelter to people who were fighting in the struggle and comforted women whose young children had died. He said: "Even at 81 [she] was one person I thought would live forever".

Bambatha said for all these contributions, Madikizela-Mandela should be honoured and respected.

A state funeral is planned for Saturday.

Zwane said she was speaking on behalf of those who have served "Mrs Mandela", personal assistants, the kitchen staff, the gardeners and the nurses "who became part of her", and said that during one of their camaraderie discussions about death and funerals, Winnie had told Zodwa she would make her famous during her funeral.

Mourners arrived waving ANC and South African flags, chanting revolutionary songs.

In our series of letters from African writers, Ghanaian journalist Elizabeth Ohene shares her admiration for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as South Africa holds a memorial service the anti-apartheid campaigner.

"Had they allowed Winnie Mandela to stand as deputy president, we would not have known a president called Zuma", he said.

"She fought for us to get freedom".

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"Though you are gone from our human eye, the black fortress of human dignity can not be erased".

"As a daughter-in-law‚ you have to‚ most importantly‚ respect protocol".

"You are a torch-bearer of our liberation". Nelson Mandela was an icon but the police in the country were afraid of Winnie Mandela. Afterwards I immersed myself in books and documentaries about her. "What strikes me with her is that she had a way of knowing people and loving people‚" said Sono.

Winnie Mandela, right, waits for a glimpse of her husband, Nelson Mandela, outside the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 12, 1964, after Mandela and seven other high ranking ANC members were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment.

"I come to Orlando Stadium to work every time there is an event here, including soccer matches".

Mandela divorced her in 1996 claiming infidelity and saying that after his release from prison, his wife made him "the loneliest man". "Without her sacrifice, her daily sacrifice, her yearly sacrifice, the freedom that we all enjoy today would not have come and we would like to thank her very much for this freedom, because she contributed with her life, by the way, for the freedom that we enjoy today".

Winnie Mandela was found guilty of kidnapping Stompie Moeketsi, a 14-year-old boy who was then beaten to death by her bodyguards in her home in 1988.

'She remained throughout her life a tireless advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalised.

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