Cyril Ramaphosa lauds Mandela family for disclosing Zindzi had Covid-19

16 July 2020 - 20:58
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday described Zindzi Mandela as a courageous freedom fighter in her own right, who in 1985
Image: AFP President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday described Zindzi Mandela as a courageous freedom fighter in her own right, who in 1985 "fired up the entire nation".

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has lauded the Mandela family for publicly disclosing that Zindzi Mandela, the country's ambassador to Denmark, lost her life due to complications related to Covid-19.

Ramaphosa was paying tribute to the daughter of anti-apartheid stalwarts Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, affectionately known as “Mazet”, during a virtual memorial service hosted by the ANC Women's League.

He described the decision by the Mandela family to disclose the fact that Zindzi had recently tested positive for Covid-19 as an act of solidarity with the country in the battle against the deadly respiratory disease.

Ramaphosa welcomed the Mandela family's “gesture”, saying it was consistent with the ethos of Zindzi's life from a young age and would help address the stigma attached to Covid-19.

“Just yesterday we received the news that Zindzi too had tested positive for the virus. I would like to thank the Mandela family for the very important gesture of sharing this information with the nation,” said Ramaphosa during the digital memorial service.

“This is a virus that affects us all and there should never be any stigma around people who become infected. In doing so, you're helping to encourage social acceptance for sufferers.

“At such a time, what we need most in our lives is to show love and to show care. This gesture is the final act of solidarity in the life of a woman who devoted her life to the cause of her fellow South Africans.

“Zindzi has departed this life but her legacy will live on in our minds and in our hearts.”

Born in 1960 to a couple at the forefront of the fight against apartheid, Ramaphosa said Zindzi grew up to be a courageous freedom fighter in her own right.

He said she would be fondly remembered for the defiant manner in which she read out a famous letter at a rally in Soweto in 1985 from her then imprisoned father, rejecting an offer of conditional release by former apartheid president PW Botha.

“It was at this very moment that Zindzi's courage, bravery and leadership talents were displayed for all to see,” said Ramaphosa.

“She captured the hearts and the minds of all freedom-loving South Africans as the message was broadcast to the world. Through her reading of Madiba's letter, the articulation and her defiant posture ignited the people of our country.

“As a young women, she motivated our people to go on with the fight against the oppressors. She literally fired up all us — not only those of us who were in that stadium, but she fired up the entire nation.”

Zindzi is due to be laid to rest on Friday in Fourways, north of Johannesburg, next to her mother.