Residents of Majwemasweu in Brandfort, in the Free State, have paid homage to Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zindzi. The 59-year-old died in a Johannesburg hospital in the early hours of Monday morning.

Zindziswa Mandela lived with her mother Winnie in the Majwemasweu Township after the apartheid regime banished her mother to the area in 1977.

MamaWinnie had spent 18 months in solitary confinement in the Women’s Jail in Johannesburg when the decree was made. Today, house number 802 in Majwemasweu is a national heritage site.

Zindzi was just 16 when she arrived with her mother. Retired teacher, 78-year-old Norah Moahloli shared a special bond with Zindzi and her mother.

“Zindzi was very friendly, as you know it was not easy to live under house arrest with her mother. She managed to communicate very easy, because of being a child. As we are passing through she will follow my son to church or to school. It was easy for her to communicate with her equals in the community. They were so close to her; Zindzi will take care of her mother. And she was very strong”.

Zindzi – South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark – has been described as a true compatriot. She was also admired for her bravery and deep commitment to social justice. Another resident, 62-year-old Oupa Mothekhe speaks fondly of the times they spent with Zindzi and Mama Winnie.

“At the time she was living here with her mother you remember it was during apartheid. But she couldn’t feel the restrictions they were living under because we were warm to them and they were warm to the people. They always received us with warm hands. We would listen to freedom songs”.

Following years of delays, Winnie’s house in Majwemasweu has finally been revamped to become a museum. But it’s yet to operate. Residents want the process of opening it to be accelerated.

“In honour of Zindzi and Winnie Mandela, we as the community or youth of Majwemasweu, we would like to see development in our community, we would like to see youth working. We would like to see RDPs, water, especially jobs,” says one resident.

“We are saddened by the passing of Zindzi as she was part of us in Brandfort. We honour them for their contributions in our country,” adds another.

Many say the moments they shared with Zindzi and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will forever be in their minds.

In the video below, Zindzi remembered as a person who valued discipline and education:

Down to earth person

In the Eastern Cape, Zindzi Mandela is remembered as a down-to-earth person who valued discipline and education.

Those close to her say she was also proud of her culture and heritage. Mandela pushed for the preservation of all indigenous cultures. She was also steadfast in the liberation struggle.

“I was deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of inkosazana uZindzi Mandela. I met her in the early 80s in Soweto. She was a great person and very humble but at the same time very strong. Most of the time we used to discuss politics. Remember during the 80s there were a number of MK members who were coming outside the country who would visit Mandela’s home and we would meet them there. We used to discuss strategies of how to fight the apartheid regime because that was our main mission to fight the regime. Zindzi used to encourage us to go back to school and attend school in so much that after we have finished exams we would take the reports and give to her mother and discuss it. We used to stay with her a lot,” says Lamla Jiyose, a family friend.

Jiyose says Zindzi was instrumental in ensuring that the body of Kingi Jonguhlanga Sabatha Dalindyebo was returned to South Africa after his passing in Zambia.

In Qunu she is also fondly remembered with some saying her father, Madiba, would have loved for her to be laid to rest there. However, they understand that might be difficult due to the COVID-19 regulations currently in place.

“They all used to come here, the frequented visit of their home. Madiba loved all his children equally. He was fond of them. If you visited there you would find them all laughing. He loved his children in so much that he dug all their graves to come and be reburied in Qunu,” says a local chief, Inkosi Nokwanele Balizulu.

The Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha has also expressed sadness over her passing, describing it as a huge loss.

In the video below, the UN pays tribute to Zindzi Mandela: