South African anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died aged 81.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

The couple – famously pictured hand-in-hand as Mr Mandela walked free from prison after 27 years – were a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle for nearly three decades.

Family spokesman Victor Dlamini said Mrs Mandela “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.

Retired archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu praised her as a “defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid”.

“Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists,” he added.

Remembering Winnie Mandela, Mukurima Muriuki noted on his Facebook page:

“No African woman has exemplified fighting injustice and inculcating a belief of a liberated tomorrow, better than Winnie Mandela. To say Winnie Madikizela Mandela was a brave woman is to understate her courage in the face of apartheid. Remember her clenched fist? Without Winnie, most likely, the name “Mandela” would have been forgotten in the cold and dehumanizing cells at Robben Island.

Rest in Peace, Mama Africa. Death is not a full stop, but a comma that will punctuate what you stood for into more loftier significance.”

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