Sapa, 28 May 2008

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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, has taken a refugee family into her home, Beeld newspaper reported on Wednesday. The former president of the African National Congress Women's League, who was one of the first politicians to visit xenophobia hot spots, invited a Congolese family to live in her home until they find another place to stay. "I am so grateful for her help. Until now, there was no hope for us," said Shenila Tshibangu, 29, who accepted the invitation with her husband, Omar Luabeya, 29, and her two daughters, aged one and two. The family lost all their belongings in xenophobic violence that left 56 dead and displaced 17 000. Madikizela-Mandela had spoken to Luabeya at the Cleveland police station in Johannesburg on Tuesday and he told her that he was concerned about his wife who had gone missing. But Tshibangu, who had been seeking refuge at a church in Pretoria where she was searching for work, had in the meantime managed to track down her husband and children in Cleveland. When Madikizela-Mandela contacted Luabeya later in the day, he informed her that his wife was back and she invited them to stay at her house.