- NAME: Winnie Mandela
- OCCUPATION: Activist, Government Official
- BIRTH DATE: September 26, 1936 (Age: 76)
- EDUCATION: Shawbury High School, University of the Witwatersrand, Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Bizana, South Africa
- Maiden Name: Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela
- Originally: Nkosikazi Nobandle Nomzamo Madikizela
- Full Name: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
- AKA: Winnie Mandela
- AKA: Winnie Madikizela
- ZODIAC SIGN: Libra
Best Known For
Winnie Mandela was the controversial wife of Nelson Mandela who spent her life in varying governmental roles.
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Additionally, her group of bodyguards, the Mandela United Football Club, garnered a reputation for brutality. In 1989, a 14-year-old boy named Stompie Moeketsi was abducted by the club and later killed.
Through a complex mix of domestic political maneuvering and international outrage, Nelson Mandela was freed in 1990, after 27 years of imprisonment. The years of separation and tremendous social turmoil had irrevocably damaged the Mandela marriage, however, and the two separated in 1992. Before that, Winnie Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting Moeketsi; after an appeal, her six-year sentence was ultimately reduced to a fine.
Even with her conviction, Winnie Mandela was elected president of the ANC's Women's League. Then, in 1994, Nelson Mandela won the presidential election, becoming South Africa's first black president; Winnie was subsequently named deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology. However, due to affiliations and rhetoric seen as highly radical, she was ousted from her cabinet post by her husband in 1995. The couple divorced in 1996, having spent few years together out of almost four decades of marriage.
Winnie Mandela appeared before the nation's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997, and was found responsible for "gross violations of human rights" in connection to the killings and tortures implemented by her bodyguards. While ANC leaders kept their political distance, Winnie still retained a grassroots following. She was re-elected to Parliament in 1999, only to be convicted of economic fraud in 2003. She quickly resigned from her post, though her conviction was later overturned.
Winnie Mandela continues to be a controversial media figure. In a 2010 Evening Standard newspaper interview, she sharply criticized Archbishop Desmond Tutu and her ex-husband, disparaging Nelson Mandela's decision to accept the Nobel Peace Prize with former South African President F.W. de Klerk. Winnie later denied making the statements. In 2012, the British press published an email that Winnie Mandela had composed, in which she criticized the ANC for its general treatment of the Mandela clan.
Despite the conflicts, Winnie Mandela is still widely revered for her role in ending South Africa's oppressive policies. Her story has been the subject of an opera, books and films. Winnie has been portrayed by many different actresses and in a number of screen productions. She was played by actress Alfre Woodard in the 1987 television movie Mandela; by Sophie Okonedo in the TV movie Mrs Mandela (2010); and by Jennifer Hudson in the 2011 film Winnie, which was produced by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
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