Instead she remained embedded in the community where she met Nelson Mandela at a bus stop in 1957.
Dlamini remembered her for going out of her way to protect poor South Africans.
Thousands of mourners crowded into a stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, where the campaigner was given a high-level send-off before her burial in Johannesburg.
South Africans gathered Saturday to bid farewell to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid icon hailed as the mother of a nation and a political force.
The former wife of Nelson Mandela died earlier this month at the age of 81. The debates, and complexities of the struggle icon are set to continue.
"All those who resigned from the NEC of the women's league because they said they can't be led by a criminal they are here playing all important roles at your funeral, can we trust them or should we treat them with suspicion cde Winnie?".
"It is hard to accept that she is no longer with us", cried her daughter Zenani Dlamini, "because she was always so strong". "She never stopped serving", civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said Friday. The crowd, which included former presidents Jacob Zuma, Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki, roared in approval.
Also present at the funeral service were former presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, dignitaries from African countries and celebrities such as British supermodel Naomi Campbell and US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
Although Madikizela-Mandela helped usher in a new, more equitable South African political system during her lifetime, she was also entangled in a number of scandals over the years. "As president, I will propose that we award you the highest order of our movement, you richly deserve to be awarded", Mr Ramaphosa said.
Winnie held different positions in the government including and was appointed deputy Prime Minister of arts, culture, science and technology in 1994.
Madikizela-Mandela was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, including the 27 years he was imprisoned on an island near Cape Town. "What must we tell them", Malema asked, saying they were promised a quiet visit. She warned the "hypocrites" who hid the truth and marginalised her mother. The pain we carry in our hearts can not be extinguished.
Member of the leftist party, the Economic Freedom Fighters also attended in large numbers.
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"You said we must go back to the ANC".
"I'm sorry Mama that your organisation (ANC) delayed in according you its honour".
He conceded that the ANC hasn't been there for her during the tumultuous times. Ramaphossa said South Africa has a painful history which characterizes the current situation in the country with anger.
Echoing several commentators this week, Mandela-Dlamini said she believed that much of the criticism her mother faced was because she was a woman. "Zenani's tears revealed Mama Winnie's wounds".
Zezani said her family has been comforted and shielded by the love people have showed them. "It was a life of compassion", said the president.
In 1991, Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault, but her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a two-year suspended sentence on appeal. "It was a spear that throughout the darkest moments of our struggle she wielded with great courage". Yet, through everything, she endured.
Responding to Malema, the president said, "The wounds you are talking about are real wounds but today is the time to heal those wounds".
However, the couple separated just two years later, and divorced in 1996. Madikizela-Mandela denied any knowledge of any killings. She bore witness to our suffering. "She was one of us".
Isithwalandwe, which literally means "the one who wears the plumes of the rare bird" was traditionally bestowed only on the bravest warriors and those who distinguished themselves in the eyes of all the people for exceptional qualities of leadership and heroism. She was one of the people.
"I am here Mama to express my condolences to your biological children whom I know, and the rest of Madikizela and Mandela family". South Africans stood by the road side as the funeral procession proceeded to the stadium.