According to multiple outlets including the New York Times and the BBC, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died at the age of 81, her personal assistant confirmed Madikizela-Mandela’s death on Monday.
“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year,” family spokesperson Victor Dlamini said in a statement according to The Guardian. “She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.”
Madikizela-Mandela was formerly married to South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela and together the pair worked tirelessly to end apartheid. Madikizela-Mandela and Mandela were married in Dec. 1956 and had two daughters Zeni, born in 1958, and Zindzi, in 1960.
While Madikizela-Mandela stood by her husband during the 27 years he was sent to prison after being convicted of sabotage and treason in June 1964, after his release they ran into martial difficulties and went on to separate in 1992, divorcing in 1996.
Despite the pair’s separation, Madikizela-Mandela was among the visitors to see Mandela at the hospital in his final days before he passed away in 2013.