Zindzi Mandela, the youngest child of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and his second wife Winnie Mandela, died on Sunday at the age of 59. Mandela was South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark and her death was confirmed by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Monday. While cause of death is still not confirmed, reports state that Mandela died in a Johannesburg hospital on Sunday evening. The country’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a press release that they were still in the process of gathering the details surrounding her death and would “release a detailed statement at a later stage.”
“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,” said Dr. Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations.
Much like her late father, Mandela spent her life actively advocating for the betterment of South Africa. The world became better acquainted with Mandela in 1985 when she read her father’s rejection letter of President P.W. Botha’s offer to release him from jail. He would later be released in 1990. Her life in the decades since have largely been occupied by political advocacy and decision-making. In a statement mourning her passing, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa noted that Mandela had, over the course of her life, acted as the “Deputy President of the Soweto Youth Congress, was a member of the Release Mandela Campaign, and was an underground operative of Umkhonto weSizwe.”
Mandela’s most well-recognized role was serving as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark, which she’s held since 2015. She had also been named South Africa’s Head of Mission in Monrovia, Liberia.
Mandela was known to show her passion for keeping the apartheid mindset out of South Africa throughout her life. In June 2019, she took to Twitter to state “Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally #TheLandIsOurs.”
“I offer my deep condolences to the Mandela family as we mourn the passing of a fearless political activist who was a leader in her own right,” President Ramaphosa said on Monday. “Zindzi Mandela was a household name nationally and internationally, who during our years of struggle brought home the inhumanity of the apartheid system and the unshakeable resolve of our fight for freedom. After our liberation she became an icon of the task we began of transforming our society and stepping into spaces and opportunities that had been denied to generations of South Africans.”
Mandela’s death comes five days before what would’ve been her father’s birthday on July 18. He died at the age of 95 in 2013.