'She served South Africa well': Minister Naledi Pandor pays tribute to the late Zindzi Mandela

Zindzi Mandela
Zindzi Mandela
Neil P. Mockford, Getty Images
  • Zindzi Mandela has died.
  • She started her stint as South Africa's ambassador to Denmark in 2015.
  • She has been described as a struggle icon in her own right.

Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Nelson Mandela, has died.

Mandela died in a Johannesburg hospital during the early hours of the Monday morning, SABC News is reporting

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor said her department was still gathering information regarding Mandela's death.

"Zindzi will not only be remembered as a daughter of our struggle heroes, Tata Nelson and Mama Winnie Mandela, but as a struggle heroine in her own right. She served South Africa well,” Pandor said in a statement, expressing her condolences to the Mandela family and their loved ones.

"May her soul rest in peace."

An official at the Nelson Mandela Foundation told News24 he had heard about Mandela's death, though he had not spoken to her sister, Zenani, as yet.

An Instagram account under the name of Zindzi Mandela's son, Bambatha, posted a photo of Zindzi with the caption "Lala ngo xolo Madlomo".

View this post on Instagram

Lala ngo xolo Madlomo. ??

A post shared by Bugatti Bambino® (@bambatha_mandela) on

Zindzi Mandela served as South Africa's ambassador to Denmark from 2015. 

Johannesburg mayor Geoffrey Makhubo said the then 25-year-old Mandela "made history” in Soweto in 1985 when she read her father’s famous refusal to accept PW Botha's offer of a conditional release.

"Your legacy will remain for future South Africans to recognise your contribution to the country’s freedom. The role you played alongside your parents in the liberation of this country shall not be forgotten, as you bear the scars of the fight of freedom," he said in a statement.

"Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail. Just like her parents, Zindzi also dedicated her life to the cause of the people…

"Despite so much violation to your inalienable rights at the hands of the apartheid regime, the City of Johannesburg is indebted to you for your fearlessness and bravery."

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party was still gathering information on Mandela's death, but was giving the family privacy at this stage.

Mabe told eNCA the party had conveyed its condolences to the Madikizela and Mandela families.

He said the party would work with the families to keep the public updated about funeral arrangements.

"Sis' Zindzi was outspoken - she expressed her views without fear or favour. That is the character of cadres we want in the African National Congress. People who will be able to express their own views, make it known when they are unhappy about certain things that they see or that they perceive the party to be doing. So we do not pick up grudges out of those. Actually, it is those kinds of sentiments that work towards making our party much better. Imagine this, if the ANC did not have comrades of Zindzi's stature who would be able to express their views in that way, what would happen?"

The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) said Mandela's "whole life was defined by, and dedicated to, the liberation struggle".

"Comrade Zindzi herself, together with her sister comrade Zenani, were constantly harassed by the apartheid security police. They were never afforded a normal childhood and the most basic dignity, respect, and humanity of a normal family life," it said in a statement.

"Their whole lives were shaped and defined by the struggle against the vicious, evil, apartheid system. From their births, throughout their childhood and teenage years, and their whole adult lives, they gave - and sacrificed - their very beings to the liberation of the people of South Africa. The deprivation, pain and humiliation that were inflicted on them - and which they took on for our sakes - were, and remain, unsurpassed.

"Yet, together with uMama Winnie, they never wavered in their singular commitment to our struggle for the full liberation of the black (especially the African) people, of their beloved country."

It said it had, as it did with her mother, "lost a fellow liberation soldier of MK, and we dip our revolutionary banner to one of our very own".

"Comrade Zindzi’s spear has fallen, and as we pause to pick it up, we rededicate ourselves to continue with the struggle until the full liberation all our people is truly achieved."

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane thanked Mandela for her "service to the people of South Africa".

"While we are saddened by [hear] death … it is important to appreciate the contribution she made in the liberation of our country through her role in our struggle,” he said.

"We appreciate more the sacrifices she and her family made during the trying times of our liberation struggle and her resilience that made her stand firm against constant torment by the evil apartheid government.”

He said it was because of the role played by people like Mandela that South Africans enjoy a constitutional democracy, "an outcome of the struggle she was actively involved in from an early age".

She is survived by her four children and her husband.

- Compiled by Sheldon Morais and Tammy Petersen

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