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It’s now official: Free State town renamed Winnie Mandela

Staff Reporter

The town of Brandfort in the Free State will be renamed Winnie Mandela after the late struggle icon.

Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa gazetted the name change on Friday.

This, according to the notice, was in terms of Section 10 (2) of the South African Geographical Names Council Act (Act No 118 of 1998).

Winnie Mandela was banished to the small farming town at the height of the oppressive apartheid system and spent about eight years there between 1977 and 1985.

She was not allowed to leave the town and her movements were closely monitored by apartheid security personnel as she was not allowed to openly interact with the locals.

SA History Online states that she was unceremoniously dumped at House 802 in the dusty Afrikaner-dominated town with her youngest daughter, Zinzi, on May 16, 1977.

It says there was no running water nor electricity and the house had no floors nor ceilings.

The people spoke mainly Sotho, Tswana or Afrikaans and hardly any Xhosa, which was Winnie’s home language.

While the move was meant to break her, it actually emboldened her and she took a provocative stance against the system.

She, according to the history hub, would spend hours in the white-owned shops empowering the mostly black shopkeepers with political ideologies. 

It was during that period that Winnie Mandela became a leading opponent of the apartheid system and her popularity grew across the world.

Madikizela-Mandela returned to Soweto from Brandfort in late 1985, in defiance of her banning order.

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