BRANDFORT, April 11 – “Those boys don’t know who they dealing with.” These were the words uttered by Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to embattled Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille the last time the two spoke via phone in December last year, according to De Lille.
De Lille, who is fighting for her job as the Democratic Alliance (DA) – under the national leadership of Mmusi Maimane – forge ahead with plans to hold a disciplinary inquiry against her, was speaking at a memorial service for Madikizela-Mandela organised by the DA’s political foe, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
“What I learnt from Mama Winnie is that politics is not for sissies,” said De Lille.
“She wasn’t the kind of politician that when you hit her on the one cheek, she gave the other check. She klapped [slapped] you back.”
De Lille said Madikizela-Mandela remained principled to the very end and stood ready to help those in need, irrespective of their political affiliation.
“When you don’t have a home, when you are landless, when you are poor, she does not ask you what political party you belong to and she was there for every one of the poor people.”
De Lille also recalled how in 1995 when MPs attended a UN women’s conference, as part of the South African delegation, in Beijing, China, Madikizela-Mandela was ostracised.
“That time Mama Winnie was separated from Tata [Nelson Mandela]. When she arrived at the airport, they didn’t even fetch her. When she arrived at the hotel, there was no room.”
De Lille said she offered her room to Madikizela-Mandela and shared a room with another delegate, before leaving the conference in protest.