HARARE, -- The Zimbabwean government on Thursday mourned the passing on of anti-apartheid hero Winnie Mandela, describing her as a reliable comrade-in-arms and lauding her sacrifices which led to the independence of South Africa.

Mandela, 81, the former wife of independent South Africa's first president, the late Nelson Mandela, died on Monday after a longillness.

Acting President Constantino Chiwenga said Mandela had lived to see her dream of a free South Africa come true. The late Comrade Madikizela-Mandela will forever be remembered for her bravery and numerous sacrifices she made in the epic struggle against the inhuman apartheid system, a struggle, for which she suffered personal humiliation, house arrests, banishments, solitary confinement and prolonged disruption of family life, he said.

In spite of all these brutal attempts by the apartheid regime to break her resistance, she remained strong and resolute."

Chiwenga said Zimbabwe banked on Mandela as a comrade-in-arms we could rely upon.

We are consoled by the fact that she lived to witness the realization of her dream of a free, democratic and non-racial South Africa, he added.

He said Mandela had left her country and the world a rich legacy in the fight for freedom against oppression.