On crutches and in buses: South Africans pay their respects to Mam Winnie

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Peter Andrews)

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Peter Andrews)

Although 76-year-old Mary Zwane has an injured knee and Mrs Evelyn Matshepo is on crutches, both women were determined to remember Winnie Madikizela Mandela at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.

Busses have been bringing people from all over the city to pay tribute to the fallen struggle icon.

For Matshepo who lives in Orlando West,  Madikizela-Mandela was a woman who wanted unity.

For Mary who lives in Diepkloof, she was a woman who gave up her personal safety for the people to build a non-racial, non-sexist society.

Winky Boy who moved to Johannesburg from the Eastern Cape in the 70s said he was one of Madikizela-Mandela’s neighbours in Orlando West, where he still lives today.

“No one suffered as she did.
And I speak as one who has suffered,” he said.

Mr Winky Boy recalled how he was in Jabulani Stadium when Zizi Mandela read a letter from her father, former president Nelson Mandela, acknowledging his receipt of the Nobel peace prize in 1985 at a UDF rally.

Not everyone attending the memorial service today knew Madikizela-Mandela personally. Nonosi Bogatsu from Johannesburg said she was attending the service to commemorate “Mam Winnie’s hard work”.

One woman from the area said that she is who she is because of Madikizela-Mandela.

Orlando Stadium has been filling up with people since early Wednesday morning.

Several police officers working security arrived at the venue around 4.30am on Wednesday, while vendors setting up braais and clothing booths have been feeding and clothing mourners from all over Johannesburg.

One constable said he finished his shift in Pretoria around 11pm on Tuesday night only to arrive at a hotel near the stadium for a brief nap. He doesn’t know when he will be off shift, but he hopes the day will run smoothly. 

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA.  Read more from Gemma Ritchie

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