JOHANNESBURG: Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela died on Monday, at the age of 59.
Daughter to Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, she was South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark at the time of her death.
“Ambassador Mandela passed away in the early hours of today, 13 July 2020, in a Johannesburg hospital,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement.
The cause of her death was not immediately revealed. She had been designated to become South Africa’s envoy to Liberia after her stint in Copenhagen, which started in 2015.
The Mandela family released a brief statement announcing her death, which said she was survived by her children and grandchildren.
Zindzi was born and raised in Soweto and grew up while her father was incarcerated by the apartheid regime for 27 years.
Like her parents, she was involved in the liberation struggle and was an active member of the African National Congress (ANC) youth movement.
One of her most prominent moments was in 1985 when she read out — in front of a huge crowd of ANC supporters at a Soweto stadium — a letter in which her father rejected an offer of release from the then apartheid president P.W. Botha.
Botha had offered to free Mandela from prison on condition he renounced the anti-apartheid violence and protests.
She read the letter dressed in yellow and black — the trademark colours her father had adopted as a statesman. According to another anti-apartheid icon, retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, the letter “reinvigorated the values and principles of the struggle”.
“For the 27 years that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, his family — wife … and daughters Zindzi and Zenani — played a critical role symbolising the humanity and steadfastness of the anti-apartheid struggle,” the Tutu Foundation said in a statement. Her fiery anti-apartheid stance did not wane with age.