President Cyril Ramaphosa has conveyed his condolences following the passing of South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, on Monday morning aged 59.
Mandela was the youngest daughter of the late former President Nelson Mandela and African National Congress (ANC) struggle stalwart Winnie Mandela.
The Mandela family confirmed the news in a short statement. “She is survived by her children and grandchildren. Memorial service and funeral arrangements to be announced in the course of the week,” it said.
‘Fearless political activist’
In a statement, Ramaphosa hailed Mandela as a “fearless political activist” who spent many years in South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.
He said, “I offer my deep condolences to the Mandela family as we mourn the passing of a fearless political activist who was a leader in her own right.
Our sadness is compounded by this loss being visited upon us just days before the world marks the birthday of the great Nelson Mandela.
“Zindzi Mandela was a household name nationally and internationally, who during our years of struggle brought home the inhumanity of the apartheid system and the unshakeable resolve of our fight for freedom.”
Mandela went on to become an icon of social transformation in South Africa, the President added. “Her spirit joins Tata Madiba and Mama Winnie in a reunion of leaders to whom we owe our freedom,” he said.
Zindzi Mandela’s cause of death has not yet been revealed. It is reported that she passed away at a Johannesburg hospital. She had served as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark since 2015 and had been designated as the new head of diplomatic mission to Liberia.
Mandela was sometimes outspoken on social media on various issues. In February, she expressed “heartbreak” at the ANC’s apparent defence of apartheid’s last President FW de Klerk’s presence at the State of the Nation Address in Parliament.
Taking to Twitter, she shared a picture of Winnie Mandela being arrested by apartheid police along with the caption, “As a loyal and dedicated member of @MYANC I am heartbroken. This happened to my Mother and many others under de Klerk’s watch.
“According to his interview, he justified this, therefore saying that that my Mother and others deserved this aggression. What do we stand for?”
Although she remained an ANC member, she often expressed strong support for some initiatives championed by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), such as the call to rename Cape Town International Airport after Winnie Mandela.
In March, she met EFF’s top leadership, including Julius Malema, and held discussions about establishing a Winnie Mandela private school and naming EFF’s headquarters in Johannesburg after her mother.