Life and Times of Winnie Mandela , records that she was a rebel in her own right from an early age. Their deaths, when she was about 10 years old, seem to have shaken her belief in a Christian god.
The next day he was dead. When Nelson Mandela died at the end of , she became involved in unseemly and bitter disputes involving their two daughters and other relatives over his estate and legacies.
Her treatment by police was appalling. Winnie was widely linked to "necklacing", when suspected traitors were burnt alive by a petrol-soaked car tyre being put over their head and set alight. Her reputation may have been badly dented several times, but her popularity among the African majority clearly remained broad and deep.
Her elder daughter, Zeni Zenani , had married into the Swaziland royal family, so Winnie was leaving herself alone but for the ever-watching police. Shortly afterwards, Nelson phoned her and asked her out.
When a complacent and arrogant Afrikaner prosecutor rose and addressed Winnie by her number, she retorted that she was not a number, that her name was Winnie Mandela, and she should be addressed as such. In she took up the cause of immigrants who had come under attack in widespread riots arising from unemployment and social deprivation.
Arrested while taking part in an anti-pass law demonstration, she nearly lost her first child in prison, haemorrhaging badly. Winnie famously took the top tier of the wedding cake back to Johannesburg, intending that it should be eaten when they had a chance to visit her in-laws together. By ancestry and circumstance she was an explosive mixture.
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But they separated just two years later and divorced in after a legal wrangle that revealed her affair with a young bodyguard. Winnie demanded that he resign, but he refused. On April 2, , she died at the age of 81 after a long illness.
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She had surrounded herself with a band of vigilante bodyguards called the Mandela United Football Club, who earned a terrifying reputation for violence. She was originally charged with murder, assault and kidnap, but after the murder charge was dropped she was convicted of the other two charges and sentenced to six years.
She resigned in , however, after she was convicted on charges of fraud and theft stemming from her involvement with fraudulently obtained bank loans, many of which benefited economically disadvantaged persons. In the world watched when Nelson Mandela finally walked out of prison - hand in hand with Winnie.