Millions of South Africans prepared to say goodbye to “mother of the nation” anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela.
The emotionally charged official funeral began in Soweto, where she lived until her death on April 21, aged 81.
Thousands of mourners packed the 40,000-seat Orlando Stadium to bid farewell to the powerful figure who will be buried as a national hero, after lively debate over how she should be remembered.
Also referred to as “Mama Winnie”, Madikizela-Mandela fought to keep South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle in the international spotlight while her husband, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned.
Condolences poured in from around the world in remembrance of one of the 20th century’s most prominent political activists.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who was attending the funeral, said on Friday that Madikizela-Mandela was responsible for making the anti-apartheid movement “a global struggle”.
“She never stopped fighting. She never stopped serving,” he told reporters. “She never left the belly of the beast.”