Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, dies at 81

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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 14: Former wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela attends an African National Congress (ANC) led alliance send off ceremony for former South African President Nelson Mandela at Waterkloof military airbase on December 14, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. The ANC held an official send off ceremony as the body of former South African President prepares to make one final journey to his hometown of Qunu for burial. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s state broadcaster says Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, prominent anti-apartheid activist and the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, has died. She was 81.

Madikizela-Mandela was married to Nelson Mandela from 1958 to 1996. Mandela was imprisoned throughout most of their marriage and Madikizela-Mandela’s own activism against the apartheid regime led to her being imprisoned for months and years under house arrest.

Her political activism was marred by a kidnapping and assault conviction in 1991, for which she was fined. She faced these allegations again during the 1997 hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a panel that investigated apartheid-era crimes.

As a parliamentarian after South Africa’s first all-race elections, she was convicted of fraud. Still, she was widely venerated in South Africa for her role in fighting white minority rule.

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