South Africa celebrates Winnie Mandela at memorial service

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How Chris Hani's assassination affected her as well as how Nelson Mandela was made to choose between his wife or the presidency.

That she helped fight for peace in this country and did so much.

Her funeral service will be held at Orlando Stadium on Saturday and will be laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Park, north of Johannesburg, where her great-granddaughter Zenani Mandela was buried in 2010.

The Soweto Gospel Choir sang several songs and led mourners in singing the national anthem at the start of the service.

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People say it's an unbelievable thing that the woman affectionately known as the mother of the nation lived with them in the township of Soweto.

Malepa added: "She is the reason that someone like me can come and live in Soweto today and raise kids here today - there are so many things that she has impacted in my life that I would never have thought".

American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson was among the scores of people who were paying their respects to the family.

In 1990 the world watched when Nelson Mandela finally walked free from prison - hand-in-hand with Winnie.

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She died in a Johannesburg hospital at the age of 81 on Monday after suffering a long illness that failed to rob of her of the charisma and energy that defined her sometimes divisive character.

The Mandelas separated in 1992 and divorced four years later, after a legal wrangle that revealed she had had an affair with a young bodyguard. "In so many ways‚ she is like Esther".

The shining beacon who illuminated our rainbow nation, and indeed Africa - amidst darkness and sorrow - has suddenly gone out. She was handsome - not only on the outside but on the inside too.

"Despite the hardship she faced, she never doubted that the struggle for freedom and democracy would triumph and succeed". She never stopped serving. We worked with her on a number of projects over the last decade, including the book 491 Days, which drew on the archive of her time as a prisoner.

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He also said she could have left Soweto and moved to the suburbs. Over the years we have valued her support of our work. "We say thank you‚" he said.

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