Winnie Mandela’s Relationship With Her Children and What Became of Them After Her Death

From the time Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Nelson Mandela began their romantic relationship, it was obvious that they were not going to be the everyday cliché family most people are used to. Having a husband who was so deep into South African politics and for a huge amount of his life was either a wanted man or in prison was going to take its toll on her family. On her own part, Winnie was also an avid activist who fought against the apartheid regime that raged through South Africa. However, beyond the political scene, she was also saddled with the responsibility of being a good mother to her daughters.

Winnie Mandela Formed A Strong Bond With Her Children From An Early Age

In 1958, the same year Winnie and Nelson Mandela got married, he, alongside 156 other people was charged for the now-infamous “treason trial”, though they were later found not guilty. As a result of his agitation for national freedom from apartheid government, Nelson Mandela spent just a little time with his wife and two daughters, Zenani – born in 1959 and Zindziswa – born in 1960, before being sentenced to life imprisonment due to his political activities.

By 1965, the situation became worse to the point that a severe ban was put on Winnie. This time around, unlike the restrictions in her movement during the day, Winnie was limited to move only within her place of residence in Orlando West. She eventually had to stop her work as a social worker because of this and her attempts at getting a new job were futile. Security agents made sure that anyone who wants to employ her was threatened and in the end, no one offered her employment within the neighborhood.

However, being resilient, she never backed down in her political activities nor did she relent in taking care of her daughters. At the time, her girls were still young and she got to spend a lot of time with them since their father was incarcerated. The girls were also actively involved in their mother’s activities and caught her zeal to fight for justice at a tender age.

She Made A Huge Sacrifice To Get Her Girls A Proper Education

As the years went by, the pressure from the South African government on Winnie was increasing by the day and she was anxious about being arrested for her political activities. According to reports, the authorities actually targeted her children back then. Whenever Winnie enrolled the girls in any school, the police will track the schools down and force them to expel the kids. They would also raid her house and on numerous occasions kept her under house arrest and prevented her from visiting Nelson Mandela in jail.

It was at this point that she made arrangements to send her daughters off to a boarding school in Swaziland in order to ensure their safety. With the assistance of Lady Birley who happens to be the wife of Sir Robert Birley, a former headmaster of Eton College, as well as Helen Joseph, Winnie eventually got them a place at Waterford Kamhlaba Private School. Afterward, Zindzi came back to South Africa where she read Law at the University of Cape town while her sister, Zenani moved to the United States to study Science at Boston University.

The Marriage Between Winnie and Nelson Mandela Ended But She Maintained a Close Rapport With Her Children

Unfortunately, after 33 years of marriage, Winnie’s union with Nelson came to an end a few years after he became a freeman in 1990. Notwithstanding, her bond with her daughters waxed stronger. Over the years, they continued to help her with some of her political exploits and on several occasions, they attended award ceremonies together.

More so, the relationship between Zenani and Zindziswa can be tagged as that of soul sisters, they both served in the stands as First Lady from 1996 to 1998 during their father’s tenure as the president of South Africa. They stepped down from the position when their father re-married in 1999 to the Mozambican politician, Graça Machel making her the country’s First Lady.

What Impact Has Winnie Mandela’s Death Had On Her Family?

Winnie Mandela died at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, on 2nd April 2018. She was 81 at the time. She suffered from diabetes and had recently undergone several major surgeries. She left behind her two daughters to plan her funeral with the help of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema. Her demise was a great loss to the nation as her contributions to fighting for a better South Africa cannot be overemphasized and for this, she was granted a “Special Official Funeral” by the South African government.

Notwithstanding the bravery Winnie had shown during her lifetime, there were so many people throwing shades and criticizing her. She began to attract these mixed feelings of admiration and hate from people during her days of activism. While some praised her actions, others have termed it ruthless, especially with regards to the circumstances surrounding the death of the boy, Stompie Seipie.

After her death, some people actually began to praise Winnie more for her bravery but that did not go down well with her daughter, Zenani. She did not waste time to air her view that they were mere hypocrites to praise her mother now that she is dead. Zenani made this statement during her mother’s memorial service held at the Orlando Stadium on April 11th, 2018.

Meet Winnie Mandela’s Children

Winnie had only two daughters with the former South African president. However, before her demise, she witnessed her family grow with ten grandchildren from her daughters.

Zenani Mandela Is Currently A Strong Political Figure

Zenani has done well for herself despite the somewhat turbulent childhood she had. Being a seasoned diplomat, she is currently the ambassador of South Africa to South Korea. The mother of 5, like her parents, has recorded a broken marriage. She met her ex-husband, Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini of Swaziland at the University of Boston where he was also a student. They eventually got married in 1973 but separated in 1990 for reasons which were never made public. The marriage produced five children – Prince Cedza Dlamini, Zamaswazi Dlamini, Zaziwe Manaway, Zinhle Dlamini, and Zozuko Dlamini.

Zenani and her former husband are also co-owners of Mandela, Dlamini and Associates (International Business Consultants). Apart from this business, she is not in any other identified enterprise as she is heavily involved in her political assignment in South Korea.

Winnie Mandela’s Youngest Daughter Zindziswa Mandela-Hlongwane Died During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Sadly, Winnie’s younger daughter, Zindziswe became one of the victims claimed by Covid-19 in 2020. She died at the age of 59 in Johannesburg, on July 13th, 2020. Prior to her demise, Zindzi had been quite relevant in the South African political scene having, served as the South African ambassador to Denmark from 2015 to 2020. Besides being a diplomat, poetry was also one of her interests and she is known to have released her first collection of poems, ‘(Black as I am)’ back in 1978.

In the marriage scene, she had also gone through a failed marriage after divorcing her first husband Zwelibanzi Hlongwane with whom she had 4 children. In March 2013, Zindzi got married for the second time to Molapo Motlhajwa who served on the South African National Defence Force. Overall, she had 5 children – Zoleka Mandela, Zondwa Mandela, Bambatha Mandela, Zwelabo Mandela-Hlongwane, Zwelabo Mandela.


Tyna G
Tyna G
A digital nomad with a never-ending curiosity and passion for discovering new places, cultures and creative outlets - this author has been writing her way around the globe for many years. Everything from entertainment to biographies, reviews to travel tips, you’ll always find stunning high quality content coming from her


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