Johannesburg — Struggle stalwart Amina Cachalia, a long-time friend of former president Nelson Mandela, has died.
She was 82.
According to reports, Cachalia -- who spent 15 years in the 1960s and 1970s under house arrest, following three consecutive banning orders by the apartheid regime -- died in Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital earlier on Thursday.
In a statement, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory said it had learned of her death with great sadness.
"On behalf of our founder, board of trustees and staff we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends," the centre's chief executive, Achmat Dangor, said in a statement.
He said Cachalia -- the widow of political activist Yusuf Cachalia -- had "travelled a long road" with Mandela and his family.
"She and her husband Yusuf were friends with Mr Mandela in the years before he went to prison.
"After he was imprisoned in 1962, they kept in touch through letters.
Only after he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison was he finally allowed to be visited by Mrs Cachalia and her husband.
"They resumed their friendship after his release in 1990," Dangor said.
Cachalia was elected an MP in the National Assembly, in the first democratic elections of 1994.
Ten years later, she received The Order of Luthuli in Bronze for her lifetime contribution to the struggle for gender equality, non-racism and a free and democratic South Africa.