JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Zindzi Mandela, daughter of former South African president and liberation hero Nelson Mandela, has died, the spokesman of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Monday.
Zindzi Mandela, whose mother was anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, rose to international prominence when she read out Nelson Mandela’s rejection of then-president P.W. Botha’s offer for freedom in 1985.
State broadcaster SABC said the 59-year-old, who was serving as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark, died in a hospital in Johannesburg. It did not say why she had died.
“This is untimely. She still had a role to play in the transformation of our own society and a bigger role to play even in the African National Congress,” said ANC spokesman Pule Mabe.
Mabe said further details would be provided in due course.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tributes are pouring in following the news of the passing of Zindzi Mandela, whose death was confirmed by the Mandela family on Monday.
Zindzi was the oldest daughter of the late former president Nelson Mandela and Struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
At her time of death at a Joburg hospital, Zindzi, 59, was South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe, speaking on SABC News, said the governing party was saddened by the sudden passing of Zindzi.
“Many would remember her for the infamous letter that came from President Mandela at the time giving directives to the people of this country especially members of the ANC on what kind of tasks they had to discharge,” Mabe said.
The letter which was delivered by Zindzi during a public meeting in 1985 was a reply from his father rejecting an offer for conditional release from prison by then apartheid president PW Botha. Mabe said the party was still awaiting fuller details of her death from the Mandela family.
“Of course we are working with them to make sure that we will be able to give the SA public the necessary update,” he said.
Monday also marked the death of Mandela’s eldest son Thembekile, who died after he was involved in a car accident in 1969.