Winnie Mandela Raising Fist

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Her Legacy in Photos

Remembering her fierce, flawed life, from fighting apartheid to criminal charges.

Through the 1980s and early '90s, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who died April 2 at age 81 in Johannesburg, was the face of women engaged in South African activist movements — viewed as loyal to her people, to her fierce political convictions, and to her role as the wife of Nelson Mandela during his decades-long imprisonment under the oppressive apartheid regime. Her legacy since that time has been complicated: She and Mandela separated two years after his release from prison in 1990; she was accused of ordering vigilante violence against her enemies; and, in 2003, she was convicted on criminal charges of fraud and theft. And yet many South Africans will always remember her by the name they once called her: "Mother of the Nation." Here’s a look back at Madikizela-Mandela’s life and legacy.

At the time she met Nelson, Winnie — despite apartheid-era restrictions on education for blacks — held a degree in social work, while he was a rising figure in the African National Congress. Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images At the time she met Nelson, Winnie — despite apartheid-era restrictions on education for blacks — held a degree in social work, while he was a rising figure in the African National Congress. They married on June 14, 1958. Four years later, Nelson was arrested on charges of inciting strikes; it would be 27 years before he was freed. Gallo Images They married on June 14, 1958. Four years later, Nelson was arrested on charges of inciting strikes; it would be 27 years before he was freed. During Nelson&#39;s imprisonment, in addition to raising their two daughters, Winnie remained undeterred in her activist work. In fact, she was arrested herself numerous times, and constantly surveilled and restricted. Here: Madikizela-Mandela in 1977 in Brandfort, a town to which she was exiled for many years by the South African government. Gallo Images/Getty Images During Nelson's imprisonment, in addition to raising their two daughters, Winnie remained undeterred in her activist work. In fact, she was arrested herself numerous times, and constantly surveilled and restricted. Here: Madikizela-Mandela in 1977 in Brandfort, a town to which she was exiled for many years by the South African government. She emerged as a leader in the anti-apartheid movement herself, known as a defender of the poor and dispossessed. (Here: Madikizela-Mandela in 1986, leaving a court in Krugersdorp.) Selwyn Tait/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images She emerged as a leader in the anti-apartheid movement herself, known as a defender of the poor and dispossessed. (Here: Madikizela-Mandela in 1986, leaving a court in Krugersdorp.) February 11, 1990: As the world watches a new era unfold, the Mandelas cheer Nelson&#39;s hard-fought freedom. Four years later, following the country&#39;s first democratic election, he would become South Africa&#39;s first black president. Allan Tannenbaum/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images February 11, 1990: As the world watches a new era unfold, the Mandelas cheer Nelson's hard-fought freedom. Four years later, following the country's first democratic election, he would become South Africa's first black president. &#39;Free!&#39; Crowds in Cape Town celebrate Nelson&#39;s release. Gideon Mendel/Corbis via Getty Images 'Free!' Crowds in Cape Town celebrate Nelson's release. By the time he was elected president, the Mandelas were separated and on their way to divorce. She would <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/02/world/africa/winnie-mandela-dead.html"target="_blank">never use the title of &quot;first lady,&quot;</a> but to hear her tell it, the role was not suited to a woman who had perhaps become more radical in her politics: &quot;I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone,&quot; she once said. Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images By the time he was elected president, the Mandelas were separated and on their way to divorce. She would never use the title of "first lady," but to hear her tell it, the role was not suited to a woman who had perhaps become more radical in her politics: "I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone," she once said. Winnie is joined by then-U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton and American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson at Nelson&#39;s inauguration as South African president in 1994. She was given a role as a deputy minister of arts, culture, science, and technology, but was later forced to leave it due to allegations of taking bribes and misusing funds. David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images Winnie is joined by then-U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton and American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson at Nelson's inauguration as South African president in 1994. She was given a role as a deputy minister of arts, culture, science, and technology, but was later forced to leave it due to allegations of taking bribes and misusing funds. Those alleged misdeeds weren&#39;t the first time Madikizela-Mandela faced legal trouble, and wouldn&#39;t be the last. In 1991 she was convicted of ordering a kidnapping of four youths, one of whom was later found dead with his throat sliced (her bodyguard was later found guilty of the murder, and Winnie&#39;s sentence was reduced on appeal). As late as 2003, she was in trouble for allegedly using her position as president of the ANC (African National Congress) Women&#39;s League to perpetrate fraud. Here: Journalists swarm her in 2004, after a judge scrapped her sentence in the latter case. -/AFP/Getty Images Those alleged misdeeds weren't the first time Madikizela-Mandela faced legal trouble, and wouldn't be the last. In 1991 she was convicted of ordering a kidnapping of four youths, one of whom was later found dead with his throat sliced (her bodyguard was later found guilty of the murder, and Winnie's sentence was reduced on appeal). As late as 2003, she was in trouble for allegedly using her position as president of the ANC (African National Congress) Women's League to perpetrate fraud. Here: Journalists swarm her in 2004, after a judge scrapped her sentence in the latter case. Despite her contradictions and controversial tactics, many in South Africa — including her former husband — remained thankful for her contributions in the fight to end apartheid. Here: Madikizela-Mandela hugs Graca Machel, Nelson&#39;s then-wife, at his 90th birthday celebration in Pretoria. Michelly Rall/WireImage Despite her contradictions and controversial tactics, many in South Africa — including her former husband — remained thankful for her contributions in the fight to end apartheid. Here: Madikizela-Mandela hugs Graca Machel, Nelson's then-wife, at his 90th birthday celebration in Pretoria. In 2010, Madikizela-Mandela surveys flooding in the Soweto township, where she has a contradictory legacy: passionately promoting revolution but also endorsing lethal gang violence while doing it. Gallo Images/Gallo Images/Getty Images In 2010, Madikizela-Mandela surveys flooding in the Soweto township, where she has a contradictory legacy: passionately promoting revolution but also endorsing lethal gang violence while doing it. Madikizela-Mandela (left) joins widow Graca Machel and other mourners at Nelson Mandela&#39;s funeral, December 15, 2013. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images Madikizela-Mandela (left) joins widow Graca Machel and other mourners at Nelson Mandela's funeral, December 15, 2013. With members of President Jacob Zuma&#39;s administration in 2014, celebrating her 78th birthday. City Press/Getty Images With members of President Jacob Zuma's administration in 2014, celebrating her 78th birthday. Posing with a copy of her book &quot;491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69,&quot; which was published in 2013. &quot;There is no longer anything I can fear,&quot; Madikizela-Mandela once <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/winnie-mandela-quotes-6-powerful-sayings-anti-apartheid-activist-dead-868486"target="_blank">said in 1987</a>, in the middle of the anti-apartheid fight. &quot;There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn&#39;t any pain I haven&#39;t known.&quot; STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images Posing with a copy of her book "491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69," which was published in 2013. "There is no longer anything I can fear," Madikizela-Mandela once said in 1987, in the middle of the anti-apartheid fight. "There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn't any pain I haven't known."