Mam’ Winnie was an icon, not just Nelson Mandela's wife: Hlengwa

04 April 2018 - 15:02
By Penwell Dlamini
Winnie Mandela. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla Winnie Mandela. File photo.

The national chairperson of the IFP Youth Brigade‚ Mkhuleko Hlengwa‚ says the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela should be celebrated as an icon and not just the woman who married former president Nelson Mandela.

Speaking at Mama Winnie’s home in Orlando West‚ Soweto‚ Hlengwe thanked the Madikizela and Mandela families for sharing their mother with the nation.

“We thank them for having borrowed us this great icon. We believe that we now have a duty and responsibility to continue with the work that they started. The struggle is not over. Unemployment continues to be high. Poverty continues to be high. The economy is not growing and there are no jobs for a lot of our youth‚” he said.

“Fundamentally the mistakes that South Africans must not make is to think that Mam’ Winnie is a struggle icon of an extended kind. She is a freedom fighter in her own right. She was celebrated in her own right. The fact that she married another icon could well be a coincidence of history…The fact that in the absence of her husband‚ even post the divorce‚ she was able to continue keeping the struggle alive‚ is an indication of the freedom fighter that she was‚” Hlengwa said.

Hlengwa still cherishes the moment he interacted with Mama Winnie‚ which only happened once in his life.

“I met with her once but it will always be a memorable conversation because she highlighted the need for us as young people to understand that democracy and freedom was not cheap. She encouraged me to continue to work. While I might have come from an opposition party but she understood that the work of building South Africa rests on all the shoulders of those who have been entrusted with the responsibility to serve.

“I will always take to heart that encouragement she gave me…I was quite humbled by that interaction. It is one which will be the greatest privilege of my life because at that moment I interacted with an icon of our freedom and democracy‚” he said.

The bereaved family was also visited by African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki. Other leaders that visited on Wednesday included Deputy President David Mabuza and former president Jacob Zuma.

Workers were hard at work putting a scaffold outside the house to help support a marquee.

The singing from the locals continued into the afternoon as the nation remembers Mama Winnie.

Born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela‚ the former wife of Nelson Mandela was a stalwart in the fight against apartheid. She died on Monday at the age of 81 at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.

She died after a long illness‚ due to 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.

Her funeral will be held on April 14 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.