TRIBUTE: Former SA ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, has died at the age of 59

South Africa's former ambassador to Denmark, the daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Ms Zindzi Mandela, died on Monday, 13 July in Johannesburg at the age of 59.

In a brief statement, the Mandela family said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Mama Zindzi Mandela, youngest daughter of the late ANC stalwarts Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She is survived by her children and grandchildren.

“The memorial service and funeral arrangements are to be announced in the course of the week,” said the family statement.

International relations & co-operation (Dirco) minister Naledi Pandor said she learnt of the death with shock.

Expressing condolences to the Mandela family, friends and colleagues, Pandor said:

“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.”

Madikizela-Mandela's former spokesperson Zodwa Zane confirmed Zindzi's passing, telling TimesLIVE that the Mandela family would issue a statement later in the day. News media reported that Mandela died suddenly in a Johannesburg hospital in the early hours of Monday.

Zelda la Grange, former personal assistant to Madiba, who knew her well, posted a tribute to Zindzi on social media, alongside a heartbroken emoji.

“My dearest Zindzi. A sensitive, loving soul. A sister. A shoulder. My heart is broken.

“May you RIP, united with your parents and Zenani jnr [Zindzi's granddaughter, who died in a car accident in 2010]. Heartfelt condolences to Zoleka, Zondwa, Zwelabo and Bambatha, grandkids and the rest of the family,” La Grange tweeted.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa on Monday described Zindzi as a “fighter” who had fought from the early days of her life. Holomisa told TimesLIVE that Zindzi was very close to her late mother.

“We will also remember her during the time when she was campaigning for [Nelson] Mandela to be released. She was vocal. My condolences to the family and her children and sisters.”

Zindzi and her sister Zenani grew up in the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle as their mother fought both the state and economic hardship as a single mother while their father was incarcerated.

“By the time I was born, on April 9 1980, my mother knew how to strip and assemble an AK-47 in exactly 38 seconds.”

These are the opening words of the biography of Zindzi's eldest daughter, Zoleka, titled When Hope Whispers.

Zindzi is best remembered for her defiance, which she retained throughout her life, most recently voicing her support for accelerated land reform. Her notable, early foray into the spotlight in her own right was when she read her jailed father's speech in Jabulani Stadium, Soweto, in February 1985, rejecting then president PW Botha's conditional offer of freedom.

Five months ago, as South Africans commemorated the 30th anniversary of Madiba's release from the Victor Verster prison, Zindzi reminisced about the weekends they went to visit him in prison and how, upon his release, she realised she would share him with the nation.

Source: Times Live. Full article here.

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