Zindzi Mandela tested positive for Covid-19, says son - family still awaiting post-mortem report

The late Zindzi Mandela.
The late Zindzi Mandela.
Getty Images
  • Zindziswa Mandela, the youngest daughter of former president Nelson Mandela, had tested positive for Covid-19.
  • She died a day before the anniversary of the death of Mandela's eldest son, Thembekile, who died in a car accident.
  • Zindziswa, also known as Zindzi, was the South African ambassador to Denmark.

Zindziswa Mandela tested positive for Covid-19 at the time of her death, her son, Zondwa, has confirmed.

Speaking on Full View on the SABC on Wednesday night, the 35-year-old confirmed the news but it was not yet clear what her cause of death was as they were still awaiting the results of her post mortem. 

"There were other tests that were conducted and my mother did in fact test positive for Covid-19 on the day of her passing. Although this doesn't therefore mean that she died of Covid-related complications but simply that she tested positive for it."

“Several other tests have been done and those tests will give us further information as to what could have led to her untimely death,” he added.

Zondwa also confirmed his mother would be buried on Friday morning.

READ | 'A leader in her own right' - Ramaphosa pays tribute to 'fearless political activist' Zindzi Mandela

He said the family has chosen to bury her on Friday and not on Saturday as the 18 July would be her father Nelson Mandela's birthday.

Zondwa described his mother as a resilient fighter, and someone who remained true to herself.

"Very importantly, she was an amazing mother who ensured that we were given the strength to live according to our own purpose and journey.

"For someone who came from such a strong family, she knew that she needed to impart our own identity within in so that we could actually lead and carry on our own legacies."

Zondwa said his mother should be remembered for the good-natured person she was.

"She was a person that connected the family to its cultural roots, she was a person who loved, she had a great amount of friends and we want to continue to celebrate that happy side and amazing side of her.

"She remained true to herself, was free to speak her mind regardless of the occasion."

Zindziswa, who had been South Africa's ambassador to Denmark since 2015, died in the early hours of Monday in a Johannesburg hospital. She was 59.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it was left heartbroken by her death.

"Zindzi will be remembered for a rich and extraordinary life, marked by many iconic moments. The years she spent banished with Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to the small town of Brandfort," foundation spokesperson Luzuko Koti said.

"That summer's day in February 1985 at Jabulani Stadium, when she read to the world Madiba's rejection of president [PW] Botha's offer of a conditional release from prison. Her own courageous work in underground structures and public service as South African ambassador to Denmark," Koti added in a statement.

OBITUARY | Zindzi Mandela dies aged 59

"We will also remember her as a special soul. She worked with the foundation on many projects over the years, for instance the book Hunger for Freedom by author Anna Trapido.

"We valued her generosity, her warmth and her sense of humour. She was always patient in responding to our requests for information and other forms of assistance. And we admired her strength in dealing with life's challenges and tragedies."

The foundation's chief executive, Sello Hatang, said: "I feel paralysed today. My heart is broken".

President Cyril Ramaphosa described Zindzi as a "fearless political activist who was a leader in her own right".

"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.

"After our liberation, she became an icon of the task we began of transforming our society and stepping into spaces and opportunities that had been denied to generations of South Africans.

"Her spirit joins Tata Madiba and Mama Winnie in a reunion of leaders to whom we owe our freedom".

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in a statement said Winnie Mandela and her daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, "played a critical role symbolising the humanity and steadfastness of the anti-apartheid struggle" for the 27 years that Mandela was imprisoned.

"With Zindzi's death, aged just 59, South Africa loses an important generational link connecting our divided history to the promise of better, more inclusive, tomorrows," it added.

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