NEWS
03/04/2018 05:10 SAST | Updated 03/04/2018 05:10 SAST

'A Gigantic Tree Has Fallen' -- Ramaphosa On Death Of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

"She was one of those who knew apartheid would be defeated even when people would have thought that... she would buckle under," said Ramaphosa.

A gigantic tree has fallen.

This is how President Cyril Ramaphosa described the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, during a visit to the late struggle hero's home.

Ramaphosa fondly remembered his last meal with Madikizela-Mandela, saying that she was a tree that provided shade for the people of the country.

He told journalists at the gates of Madikizela-Mandela's home that he spent an afternoon with her at Soweto's business hub, Vilakazi street, during election registration weekend in March.

"My last lunch with her was a most memorable one here in Vilakazi street. I sat next to her and I was overjoyed when I saw her enjoying her meal. [I was] enjoying her company..."

Ramaphosa spoke about Madikizela-Mandela's contribution in creating Villakazi street as a business hub in Soweto.

"The few businesses that were established in Vilakazi street were established out of her inspiration. She inspired a lot of the business people who are now doing business in this iconic real estate location in the world, were two Nobel peace prize winners [fomer president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu] have their homes."

Madikizela-Mandela died at Milpark hospital on Monday after a long illness.

"She was one of those who knew that apartheid would be defeated even when people would have thought that she would weaken, [that] she would buckle under. Madikizela-Mandela never did and her voice continued to reverberate throughout the length and breath of our country," Ramaphosa said.

He declared that she would have a national official funeral on April 14 at Orlando stadium. A national official memorial service will precede that on April 11.

Madikizela-Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela said the family appreciated the support of South Africans.

"We just hope and we pray that people continue to support the family and people allow us time to consolidate our efforts to gather as a family and the many stakeholders that we have here today."

The Madikizela-Mandela home was a buzz on Monday afternoon as many ANC leaders and well-known celebrities flocked to Soweto to pay their last respects.

ANC supporters also came out in their numbers and camped outside the family home. Some neighbours and supporters were emotional as the crowd broke out into struggle songs. This is expected to continue for the rest of the week as politicians and ordinary South Africans come bid farewell to the woman known as the Mother of the Nation.

-- News24