Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during her birthday celebrations on September 26, 2016 in Soweto (Gallo Images)

Minutes after the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was confirmed, international media started to recall the anti-apartheid stalwart's complicated history. 

She passed away on Monday afternoon in the Netcare Milpark Hospital at the age of 81.

See also: This is how the world is paying tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

This is how international media covered her death. 


Süddeutsche ZeLa Croixitung (Germany):
Again and again, scandals and criminal entanglements shook her public reputation.

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Die Welt (Germany):
The dazzling populist has been linked to abduction, torture and even murder.

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The New York Times (US):Madikizela-Mandela was inevitably known to most of the world through her marriage to the revered Mr. Mandela

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The New York Times chose to highlight Madikizela-Mandela's complicated history, saying her "hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa’s liberators was eroded by scandal over corruption, kidnapping, murder and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela."

"To the end, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela remained a polarizing figure in South Africa, admired by loyalists who were prepared to focus on her contribution to ending apartheid, vilified by critics who foremost saw her flaws," Alan Cowell wrote. 


Washington Post (US):
She epitomized the so-called “new” South Africa far more than her idealized former husband.

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"Her bravery under the brutal apartheid regime won her lasting respect and adulation; allegations that she was the kingpin of a deadly vigilante group during the 1980s earned her fear and mistrust," the Washington Post wrote in her obituary. 

The publication's Stephanie Hanes, who spent time in South Africa as freelance reporter between 2005 and 2009, said she was "beautiful and violent."

"She was a political insider who often played the role of outsider. … at times harshly [criticizing] the African National Congress — most recently condemning it for the continued economic disparity that has left millions of black South Africans in poverty." 


La Croix (France):
Winnie Mandela, unassuming mother of the South African nation 

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Le Figaro (France):
As a young social worker she was the target of intimidation and constant pressure.

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O Globo (Brazil):
She became involved in controversies that undermined her reputation

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The Japan Times (Japan):
An apartheid foe died after a lifetime of struggle 

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The Guardian (UK):
Her often negative image abroad contrasts with her deep and long-lasting popularity within her homeland.

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The Guardian's Africa Correspondent Jason Burke labeled Madikizela-Mandela "one of the few remaining representatives of the generation of activists who led the fight against apartheid."

Burke credited Madikizela-Mandela for advancing Nelson Mandela's cause while he was incarcerated. 

"Only after pleading from [Desmond] Tutu, the anguished TRC chairman, did she admit grudgingly that 'things went horribly wrong'," Burke wrote of Madikizela-Mandela's response to the killings by her controversial Mandela United Football Club. 


Punch (Nigeria):
She re-emerged as a “mother of the nation” figure who was feted as a living reminder of the late Mandela and of the long struggle against apartheid.

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The newspaper remarked that she had asked President Cyril Ramaphosa – known for his morning runs – "Why don't you get tired?"