Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid activist and the former wife of the late President Nelson Mandela, whom she was married to for 38 years.
Madikizela-Mandela has passed away at the age of 81, according to a family statement. She died at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa after being ill.
She was known as the "Mother of the Nation" and was imprisoned on an island near Cape Town for 27 years.
"Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid," the statement said. "She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country."
"She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognizable faces," the statement added.