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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Anti-apartheid activist and former wife of the late Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, has died at the age of 81.

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“It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday the 2nd of April 2018,” according to a statement released by the Mandela family.

Mandela died after a long illness for which she had been in and out of the hospital since the start of the year.

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She was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, including the 27 years he was imprisoned on Robben Island near Cape Town.

Mandela became known as the “Mother of the Nation” because of her struggle against white minority rule in South Africa. Her activism and resistance to Apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions, eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

“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. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother Of The Nation,” according to the Mandela family statement.

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The couple was divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black President. They had two daughters together.