Hundreds gather to see Winnie home

As the afternoon sun broke through the clouds over Soweto, a crowd of hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. An emotional guard of honour stood along the roadway as her casket was walked from Kupane Funeral Parlour to her home in Orlando West.

Those gathered, many decked out in ANC regalia, had been waiting outside the funeral parlour, among them a group of Economic Freedom Fighters.

The restless though celebratory crowd sang at the entrance, led by members of Madikizela-Mandela’s Meadowlands Methodist Church.

In the wait for the procession to begin, there were many false starts – the crowd moving between boisterous song to solemn silence as a number of hearses came and went from the funeral parlour.

When the moment finally arrived, the complete stillness gripped the congregants, mothers shushing small children.

When the casket – shrouded in an ANC flag – emerged, it was carried by Madikizela-Mandela’s male grandchildren and followed by the men from the Mandela and Madikizela family.

Amid the procession of friends and family, the presence of EFF leader Julius Malema stood out as many onlookers chanted his name.

Ululation followed the bus of politicians and family members, with youngsters in the crowd clamouring to get a picture of ANC Elections Head Fikile Mbalula, who rode behind the driver.

The long race to the Madikizela-Mandela house saw hundreds, young and old, running to keep up with the procession.

(Katlego Sekgothe/M&G)

Though the procession ended abruptly as the crowd reached the house in Orlando West, songs of celebration and mourning hung in the balmy air.

The procession took place at the end of two weeks of celebrations of the struggle icon’s life. The official memorial took place at  Orlando Stadium on Wednesday this week. On Saturday, thousands are expected to gather at the same venue for a special official funeral, where tributes from family members, close friends and international leaders will be delivered.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be delivering the eulogy at the event.

The stalwart will be laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Park where her great-granddaughter, Zenani Zanethemba Nomasonto Mandela is interred.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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