Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the legendary anti-apartheid activist rested surrounded by family and loved ones.
Ms Madikizela-Mandela had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year, according to her family.
Hundreds of people are dancing and singing in the streets of Soweto to pay tribute to South Africa's anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Winnie was imprisoned multiple times from 1969 and she spent much of her spells in solitary confinement.
After their separation she kept his surname and they maintained ties, leading to critics accusing her of attempting to use his name for political mileage. A court also convicted her in a case related to fraud. He was married at the time to Evelyn Mase but the marriage was breaking up.
He was jailed for life in 1964 and only released in 1990. She had been an integral part of the movement against apartheid. The years Mandela was imprisoned were the most hard as Winnie continued the defiance struggle. This is a woman the nation of South African was honoured to call Mother of the Nation. "Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists". Long live the struggle of the people of South Africa against oppression!
Her image and activism drew to her many anti-apartheid activists, including a group of young men who became her personal bodyguards.
"She is an inspiration to all South Africans - to stand up and emulate the strength and audacity with which she fought for the rights of people in this country".
Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was born in 1936 in the Eastern Cape - then known as Transkei.More news: Israel reaches landmark deal with United Nations to resettle African migrants
In her book "100 Years of Struggle: Mandela's ANC", Heidi Holland suggested that Madikizela-Mandela was "perhaps driven half-mad by security police harassment". She always denied the allegation, and the sentence was reduced to a fine.
The couple divorced in 1996, two years after Mr Mandela became president in South Africa's first all-race elections, with Mr Mandela accusing his wife of infidelity.
President Mandela accused her of adultery, and in the same year, dismissed her as deputy minister of arts and culture - the only post she has held in government since white minority rule ended.
"They say life can never be the same after the death of one's mother, irrespective of your relationship with her".
During her old age, she re-emerged as a respected elder who was feted as a living reminder of the late Mandela and of the long campaign against apartheid.
Madikizela-Mandela bounced back and in 1993 was elected president of the ANC's women's league.
Her research into the high infant mortality rate in a black township, which she linked to poverty caused by racism, first sparked her interest in politics. Perhaps this was all to prepare her for the biggest blow that would eventually come: the infamous Rivonia Trial which resulted in the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island for close to three decades.
"Leah and I send our heartfelt condolences to her daughters, grandchildren and extended family".