South African anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela has died aged 81, according to her personal assistant.
Winnie Madikizela Mandela was the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.
The couple – famously pictured hand-in-hand as Mr Mandela walked free from prison after 27 years – were a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle for nearly three decades.
However, in later years her reputation became tainted legally and politically.
Family spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement that she died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.
He explained that she succumbed peacefully on Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.
Mr Mandela, who stood by her throughout the accusations, was finally released from prison in February 1990.
But two years later, their marriage crumbled. The couple divorced in 1996, but she kept his surname and maintained ties with him.Please subscribe to our newsletter