The Complicated Legacy of Winnie Mandela

In 1974, she was imprisoned for six months for violating her banning order by lunching with her two children and another banned person. The government was relentlessly sadistic. In 1975, after 13 years of banning, there were 10 months of "freedom", but then came five more months of prison. In 1977, she was banned again for give years, and in 1982 for another five years. In 1986, Winnie Mandela was released at last. For the first time in a quarter of a century, she was as free as a Black person ever gets in South Africa.

When Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died from illness at age 81 on Monday, she left behind a fraught legacy. The woman who gained fame as Nelson Mandela’s wife earned her place by her own right as a leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, an aggressive and outspoken champion of poor blacks in the country under the repressive hand of the white minority government. But she also gained notoriety for episodes of corruption and, more notably, her behind-the-scene role in violence that terrorized her own community and left her fending off…

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