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Former Free State premier Winkie Direko dies

Former Free State premier Winkie Direko (82) has died of a stroke, SABC news reported on Friday.

Direko (82) was admitted to the Universitas Netcare hospital in Bloemfontein on Thursday night after complaining that she felt ill, the broadcaster said.

Family spokesperson Stanley Molesiwa said Direko was a role model for the youth.

Free State Premier Ace Magashule said news of Direko’s passing came as a surprise.

“It’s very sad, sad news that Mme Winkie is no longer with us. She always inspired those she knew,” Magashule told the public broadcaster.

“She’s really believed in God and would always call me to come to her place and would pray for me.”

Magashule extended his condolences to Direko’s family and friends. Funeral arrangements were yet to be finalised.

Winkie Direko was born in 1929 in Botshabelo, Bloemfontein.

She was a member of the National Council of Provinces from 1994 to 1999 and Premier of the Free State from June 15 1999 until April 26 2004.

Direko was the Free State’s third premier.

She also had an illustrious career as a teacher before entering politics.

She was member of the Council of Vista University and Chancellor of the Free State University.

Direko also played a leading role in the Girl Guides Association of South Africa and was a council member of Nicro and the Child Welfare Organisation. In 2001 she obtained a M Ed degree at the University of the Free State. – Sapa

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