Edna Molewa dies after falling ill on trip to Beijing
Environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa died yesterday after contracting a virus in Beijing. She had accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Chinese capital on a state visit earlier this month.
She was hospitalised in Pretoria on September 8, just days after returning.
Molewa did not respond to antibiotics and doctors decided to medically induce a coma, according to people close to her. Molewa awoke from the coma and seemed stable. Yesterday, however, her condition worsened.
Ramaphosa, who visited the Molewa family in Waterkloof Glen, Pretoria, late yesterday, said her death was a great loss to the country and the world.
He has declared a period of mourning and ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast countrywide and at South African missions abroad.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte also visited the family home.
In a statement, Ramaphosa said: "This is a devastating loss to our nation and to the global community, who owe a great debt of gratitude to the late minister Molewa for her championship nationally and globally for the environmental integrity of a sustainable planet Earth that can be shared and enjoyed by all nations and all people, rich and poor."
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said Molewa had been pivotal in the transformation agenda.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu described Molewa as a remarkable leader who had served with distinction.
The SACP dubbed Molewa "one of the hard-working ministers in SA's democratic dispensation".
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said: "During her tenure as minister of environmental affairs, the minister did great work raising awareness around the scourge of rhino poaching. On this day, World Rhino Day, we honour her commitment to this noble cause."
Molewa's political accomplishments include becoming the first female premier of the North West. She filled the post from 2004 to 2009. She was also the only female to have become a provincial chair of the ANC. In 1994 she became the first female to chair the portfolio committee on trade and industry.