President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the untimely passing of Hlengiwe Mkhize, the deputy minister in the Presidency, after a short illness as a “national loss”.
The Presidency said Ramaphosa was “deeply saddened” by Mkhize’s passing earlier on Thursday.
The deputy minister in the Presidency for women, youth, and persons with disabilities was 69.
“The president extends his condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, comrades, and associates of the late deputy minister across the country and internationally,” said the Presidency in a statement.
Professor Mkhize was appointed to the Presidency in May 2019.
Ramaphosa said Professor Mkhize’s passing constitutes a national loss.
“Prof. Mkhize’s legacy is indelible across so many dimensions and sectors of our national life,” said Ramaphosa.
“She distinguished herself as a tireless and passionate anti-apartheid and human rights activist and campaigner for an end to gender inequality.
“She availed herself for service at the international level, including her representation of Transparency International South Africa in global institutions.”
Ramaphosa said Professor Mkhize played a crucial role in conflict resolution during “our transition” to democracy.
“We owe Prof Mkhize our gratitude and deep respect for the commitment she displayed as a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chairperson of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, and trustee of the National Peace Accord Trust,” said the president.
“She set a profound example for all of us by immersing herself in building a better South Africa while pursuing a multifaceted path as an academic, from the universities of Zululand, Natal and South Africa, to Mississippi and Illinois in the United States.
“She applied her extraordinary personal achievements to the upliftment of traumatised children, to asserting the equality of oppressed women, to upholding the human rights of victimised and persecuted people around the world, and ensuring the doors of learning would open wide to new generations of South Africans.
“She played her part unselfishly and with great love for humanity. Our task is to keep her legacy intact and build on it.
“May her soul rest in peace”.
Before her appointment to the Presidency, Professor Mkhize served as deputy minister of correctional services, deputy minister of economic development, deputy minister of telecommunications and postal services, minister of home affairs and minister of higher education and training.
Professor Mkhize was also a former Ambassador to the Netherlands.