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South Africa celebrates Winnie Mandela at memorial service

MEMORIAL: Mourners celebrate Winnie Mandela at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. (Image: African National Congress/Twitter)

THOUSANDS OF South Africans have come together to remember Winnie Madikizela-Mandela today (April 11).

Mourners have gathered at the memorial service for anti-Apartheid campaigner Madikizela-Mandela who died last week.

Madikizela-Mandela, who was 81, died at Milpark hospital in Johannesburg after suffering from what her family have described as a long illness. She was surrounded by her family at the time of her death.

The memorial service, held at the 40,000-seater Orlando Stadium in Soweto, close to Madikizela-Mandela’s home in the township, was initially announced by South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa. It is the first major event of remembrance for Madikizela-Mandela.

Her grandson, Bambatha Mandela, was among those who paid tribute to South Africa’s “mother of the nation”. He said: "Even at 81 [she] was one person I thought would live forever."

He described his grandmother as “an extraordinary woman, a mother, a soldier, a fighter”.

Her great-grandchildren were also among the family members who paid tributes at the memorial service.

The Soweto Gospel Choir sang several songs and led mourners in singing the national anthem at the start of the service.

The keynote address at today’s memorial is being delivered by David Mabuza, South Africa’s deputy president.

All South Africans were invited to attend the memorial service and “luxury” coaches have been organised to transport mourners to the stadium.

A live stream of the service has been broadcast on the internet for those unable to attend.

A state funeral for the civil rights campaigner, who was also Nelson Mandela’s former wife, will take place on Saturday (April 11) at Fourways Memorial Park cemetery.

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