Winnie Madikizela-Mandela "was robbed of her rightful legacy during her lifetime", said her daughter Zenani Mandela in a powerful and emotional tribute at the funeral service in the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
She expressed her "profound dismay about my mother's public story of the past 25 years".
She said the media was "complicit in smearing my mother".
"Why have they sat on the truth, and waited until my mother's death to tell it?" she said. "They robbed my mother of her rightful legacy during her lifetime."
She was particularly angered by former police commissioner George Fivaz, who only last week said nothing connected Madikizela-Mandela with the death of Stompie Seipei.
She said those who vilified her mother should not for one moment think that the family would forget that.
"Praising her now shows us what hypocrites you are!
"The pain inflicted on her lives on in us," she said, with her sister Zindzi standing next to her at the podium.
She also questioned why men in the struggle weren't subjected to the same scrutiny and said "double standards obscure the immense efforts of women" in the struggle.
"The battle for our freedom wasn't some polite picnic to which you came armed with your best behaviour."
Mandela said her mother dared to take on one of the most evil regimes of the past century.
"And she triumphed."
She struggled with a cough through the first part of her speech, with her daughter Swati Dlamini-Mandela, who also delivered Madikizela-Mandela's obituary, taking over and reading the first few paragraphs in which Mandela expressed her gratitude to the outpouring of commiserations the family received.
Earlier on Saturday morning, Gauteng premier David Makhura said in his welcoming to the service that the "truth will triumphantly march forward to tell us who" Madikizela-Mandela was.
He said people are "deeply offended by narratives that tried to portray our Mama as a monster and demon".
"She left all of us with mixed emotions: we feel orphaned, we feel offended, but at the same time we feel affirmed," he said while welcoming mourners to the official state funeral service.
"We are weeping, but we are not broken."
He said they are from a generation that is fortunate to have lived in the time of Madikizela-Mandela.
He said she personified the true meaning of speaking truth to power and she was the authentic voice of the people's war against apartheid. He said apartheid and patriarchy could not break her.
Following Makhura was a friend of Madikizela-Mandela only identified as Mrs Mokgobo. She told how she met Madikizela-Mandela 60 years ago at the Baragwanath Hospital, where they both worked.
She had a message of strength to Zindzi and Zenani Mandela at that stage seated next to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
"You are the progeny of a woman who always tried and persevered in trying times," she said.
"Know that I am here for you."
Zukiswa Madikizela, one of Madikizela-Mandela's three sisters, paid tribute on behalf of the Madikizela family.
She said it was she that convinced Madikizela-Mandela to use Madikizela in her surname so that people will know she was a Madikizela before she was a Mandela, and that she jumped up and down in excitement when she heard the double-barrel surname for the first time on the news.