On Thursday the presidency confirmed the passing of Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, who was 62.
In his statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “It is with deep sorrow and shock that we announce that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu passed away earlier today from Covid-related complications.”
His passing comes after presidency spokesperson Phumla Williams announced on January 11 that Mthembu was the fourth member of the executive to test positive for Covid-19.
According to Williams, Mthembu had taken a Covid-19 test earlier that same day after showing some symptoms. “As per the Covid-19 regulations, Minister Mthembu and those who have come in contact with him will immediately self-quarantine.”
At the time, Mthembu himself tweeted: “Today I visited the military hospital in Tshwane to get medical attention for abdominal pain. After undergoing tests, I tested positive for Covid-19. Plans are afoot to get all my family members and close associates tested as well.”
Ramaphosa extended his condolences to Mthembu’s family, saying his thoughts and prayers were with them at this time of loss. “I extend my deepest sympathies to the minister’s family, to his colleagues, comrades and many friends.”
He described Minister Mthembu as “an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy”.
“He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.”
In 2019 Mthembu’s daughter Nokhwezi Mthembu committed suicide by allegedly hanging herself and the minister had commented on how traumatising the experience was for him and his family.
He is survived by his wife, Thembi Mthembu and five children.
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said: “My condolences to family and colleagues of Jackson Mthembu. We must not allow politics to forget our humanity. Giants are falling to this disease. May he rest in peace.”
Former DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi praised Mthembu as “a rare exception among ministers, as he valued accountability dearly and never shied away from difficult questions. He had an impeccable knack for banter that could defrost the most tense moments between political opponents.”