South Africa's anti-apartheid heroine Winnie Mandela laid to rest

SOWETO, South Africa, April 14 (Reuters) - South Africa laid to rest anti-apartheid heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Saturday, after 40,000 people from across the political spectrum mourned her at a funeral ceremony in her township of Soweto.

Madikizela-Mandela's death on April 2 at the age of 81 after a long illness was met by an outpouring of emotion across the country, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties holding memorials to remember her courage in the struggle to end white-minority rule.

The official funeral service for the ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela took place on Saturday morning in Soweto -- the Johannesburg township at the forefront of the battle against apartheid where she lived.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said that, just as South Africa grieved for Madikizela-Mandela, it was comforted by the profound meaning of her life.

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Heroine of the South Africa's anti-apartheid movement Winnie Mandela laid to rest
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Heroine of the South Africa's anti-apartheid movement Winnie Mandela laid to rest
The casket of anti-Apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela is draped with the South African flag during her funeral at the Orlando Stadium, in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the South African military carry the coffin of anti-Apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela during her funeral at the Orlando Stadium, in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the South African military carry the coffin of anti-Apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela during her funeral at the Orlando Stadium, in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the South African military carry the coffin of anti-Apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela during her funeral at the Orlando Stadium, in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zindzi Mandela, a daughter of the late anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, is escorted by medical staff after making her speech during her mother's funeral at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L) and Zindzi Mandela, daughters of the late anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, react as they give their speech during her funeral at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L) and Zindzi Mandela, daughters of the late anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, react as they give their speech during her funeral at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A guest waves during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L) and Zindzi Mandela, daughters of the late anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, react as they give their speech during her funeral at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L), Zindzi Mandela(C), daughters of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Zindzi Mandela's daughter (R) stand together as they give their speech during the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L), Zindzi Mandela(C), daughters of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Zindzi Mandela's daughter (R) react as they give their speech during the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L), Zindzi Mandela(C), daughters of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Zindzi Mandela's daughter (R) react as they speak during the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L), Zindzi Mandela(C), daughters of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Zindzi Mandela's daughter (R) react as they speak during the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L), Zindzi Mandela(C), daughters of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Zindzi Mandela's daughter (R) react as they speak during the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (L), Zindzi Mandela(C), daughters of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Zindzi Mandela's daughter (R) react as they speak during the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
Kumkani Azenathi Dalindyebo, a member of the Abathembu Royal Family, speaks during the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: Two women watch from the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
Zondwa Mandela, the grandson of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, speaks during the funeral of anti-apartheid champion Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A crowd watches from the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A crowd watches from the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A man with his face decorated in the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A crowd watches from the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
Residents of Soweto run up the banks to get a glimpse of the casket of late Anti-Apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela as it leaves the funeral at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg on April 14, 2018. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to the anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / GULSHAN KHAN (Photo credit should read GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A crowd watches from the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A crowd watches from the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
Zondwa Mandela, the grandson of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, speaks during the funeral of anti-apartheid champion Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A man holds up a sign as he watches from the stands during the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
President Hage Geingob, president of Namibia, speaks during the funeral of anti-apartheid champion Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, an opposition party in South Africa, spoke at the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed pe
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A view of the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A view of the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 14: A view of the funeral for Winnie Mandela held at the Orland Stadium on April 14, 2018, in Soweto, South Africa. The former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela, passed away on April 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela family spokesman Victor Dlamini said: She died after a long illness for 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. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
Firebrand opposition politician Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, reacts as he speaks during the funeral of anti-apartheid champion Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at the Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto, concluding 10 days of national mourning on April 14, 2018, in Johannesburg. South Africans turned out in their thousands to bid final goodbyes to anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela's former wife who was laid to rest with full state honours. Winnie Mandela, who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years. / AFP PHOTO / WIKUS DE WET (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)
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"In death, she has demonstrated that our many differences along political party and racial lines and the numerous disputes we may have are eclipsed by our shared desire to follow her lead in building a just, equitable and caring society," he said.

"Loudly and without apology, she spoke truth to power. It was those in power who, insecure and fearful, visited upon her the most vindictive and callous retribution. Yet, through everything, she endured. They could not break her. They could not silence her."

The afternoon burial ceremony at Fourways Memorial Park Cemetery, north of Johannesburg, ended a nearly two-week mourning period declared by the government.

Earlier, mourners sang and cheered as Madikizela-Mandela's body was brought into the 40,000-seat Orlando stadium, filled to capacity for the funeral service.

Many mourners were clad in the green and yellow colors of the ANC. Members of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party also attended in large numbers.

EFF leader Julius Malema, an admirer of Madikizela-Mandela who echoes her fiery rhetoric, said she had always put the country "above her own personal safety" in the fight against apartheid.

"She lived in constant naked contact with danger, prepared to lose her life, even the lives of her own children, who were put into danger by her political activities," Malema said to loud cheers in the stadium.

 

"FIGHTING SPIRIT"

During Mandela's 27-year incarceration for his fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and for the rights of black South Africans undergoing detention, banishment and arrest.

"I appreciate many things about her. She represents a fighting spirit because, even though she lived through the apartheid era, she never gave up," said 20-year old college student Gift Mokale. "I'm very grateful to be here today."

Also present at the funeral service were former presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, dignitaries from African countries and celebrities such as British supermodel Naomi Campbell and U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

For many South Africans, the most memorable image of Madikizela-Mandela is of her punching the air in a clenched-fist salute as she walked hand-in-hand with Mandela out of Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, on Feb. 11, 1990.

For husband and wife, it was a crowning moment that led four years later to the end of centuries of white domination when Mandela became South Africa's first black president.

Madikizela-Mandela's legacy, however, was later tarnished.

As evidence emerged in the dying years of apartheid of the brutality of her Soweto enforcers, known as the "Mandela United Football Club," some South Africans questioned her 'Mother of the Nation' soubriquet.

In 1991, Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault, but her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a two-year suspended sentence on appeal. (Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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