Winnie Mandela, the controversial wife of South African human rights icon and president Nelson Mandela, has died, according to several news outlets. She was 81.
South African website Eyewitness News said Winnie Mandela had been ill for several years. The The iconic activist and politician, was hospitalized back in January with kidney problems. Back then the family released a statement saying Winnie would make a full recovery.
“She is expected to make a full recovery and should spend approximately a week in hospital. She is constantly surrounded by family and is in high spirits,” the family said.
She was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, during 27 of which he was imprisoned by the minority-white apartheid regime. After her husband’s release in 1990 and ascendancy to the presidency of South Africa in 1994, the couple soon separated and divorced in 1996.
Her family said Monday that it would release details of her memorial and funeral services once these have been finalized.