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Anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, dies at 81

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 08: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela attends a service at Bryanston Methodist Church during a national day of prayer, on December 8, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela, also known as Madiba, passed away on the evening of December 5th, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s state broadcaster says Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, prominent anti-apartheid activist and the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, has died. She was 81.

Madikizela-Mandela was married to Nelson Mandela from 1958 to 1996. Mandela was imprisoned throughout most of their marriage and Madikizela-Mandela’s own activism against the apartheid regime led to her being imprisoned for months and years under house arrest.

Her political activism was marred by a kidnapping and assault conviction in 1991, for which she was fined. She faced these allegations again during the 1997 hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a panel that investigated apartheid-era crimes.

As a parliamentarian after South Africa’s first all-race elections, she was convicted of fraud. Still, she was widely venerated in South Africa for her role in fighting white minority rule.