Winnie Mandela, anti-apartheid activist and ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, dies at 81

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Monday, April 2, 2018
Former wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, left, with daughter Zenani Dlamini Mandela, at the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada in 2017.

JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa's state broadcaster says Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, prominent anti-apartheid activist and the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, has died. She was 81.

Madikizela-Mandela was married to Nelson Mandela from 1958 to 1996. Mandela was imprisoned throughout most of their marriage and Madikizela-Mandela's own activism against the apartheid regime led to her being imprisoned for months and years under house arrest.

Her political activism was marred by a kidnapping and assault conviction in 1991, for which she was fined. She faced these allegations again during the 1997 hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a panel that investigated apartheid-era crimes.

As a parliamentarian after South Africa's first all-race elections, she was convicted of fraud. Still, she was widely venerated in South Africa for her role in fighting white minority rule.