South African anti-apartheid activist and former wife to Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, has died aged 81, according to her personal assistant.
Nelson and Winnie Mandela were prominent figures in South African politics and civil rights. The two were famously photographed walking together after Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
Family spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement to BBC News: "She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.
"She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones."
Winnie Mandela was born in 1936 in the Eastern Cape, a region formerly known as Transkei.
She and Nelson were married for a total of 38 years, Nelson was in prison for 27 of those years.
The couple divorced in 1996 and maintained communication.
(Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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