Radebe 10 minutes too late for Winnie

ANC leader Jeff Radebe never thought he would arrive at Milpark Netcare Hospital to find Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lifeless.

Yesterday Radebe related how a family member had called his wife Bridgette on Monday saying they needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible.

“We arrived at the hospital at 2.45pm and she had died at 2.35pm. We found her with her two daughters Zenani and Zindzi, as well as Makaziwe and other family members.

“It was by fate or God that her daughters, who are ambassadors, were in the country at the time, and with her when she took her last breath,” he said.

Zenani and Zindzi were in London in 2013 when their father, Nelson Mandela, died surrounded by other family members – including their mother – at his Houghton home in Johannesburg.

Radebe said he saw how devastated Zenani and Zindzi were to lose their mother. Other family members were also in shock.

“I kissed her forehead and then did a military salute.

“As much as she was ageing we did not expect her to pass on so soon.”

He described Madikizela-Mandela as a leader who was defiant against the apartheid regime.

“We recall many instances where she went to the most volatile areas when police and military would arrived to harass our people. “She defended them.

“In the 1960s and 70s, while some ANC leaders were in either exile or jail, she remained a hope to the people.

“The world adored her,” he said. Due to her sudden death, the conferring of an honorary doctorate on Winnie Madikizela Mandela by the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) will not happen at next month’s graduation ceremony.

She will now receive her accolade posthumously later this year.

Madikizela-Mandela was nominated and voted by the university council for an honorary degree in social science for her contribution to the liberation struggle and her work for the community.

The university’s management described her death as shocking and expressed their condolences in a short statement.

“Her activism and resistance to apartheid qualified her as the mother of the nation even after Nelson Mandela decided to leave the presidential seat,” said WSU spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo.

Madikizela-Mandela was scheduled to speak to the 5 100 graduates at the East London graduation ceremony. ●ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule last night shared the party’s 10-day programme to celebrate the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The programme starts today with an NEC visit to the family in Soweto. A tribute book will be opened to the public to write messages at the party’s 53 regional offices.

Tomorrow, during activities around Solomon Mahlangu day, the ANC Veterans League will visit the family house in Soweto and an All Black Night will be held at the Newton Music Factory (formerly Baseline) in Johannesburg to celebrate her life.

On Saturday, ANC volunteers will work at an identified hospice in Soweto and wall murals depicting the life and times and struggles led by Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be unveiled. —

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