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Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of South African anti-apartheid leaders Nelson and Winnie Mandela, tested positive for coronavirus the day she died.
Her son Zondwa Mandela today revealed his mother did have the disease – but it has not been confirmed what caused her death aged 59 in hospital in Johannesburg on Monday.
Zindzi is the world’s highest profile victim of coronavirus, which has killed more than 4,400 people in South Africa alone.
The Johannesburg regime is fighting a worsening coronavirus outbreak despite keeping cases down early in the global pandemic with one of the world’s toughest lockdowns and quarantine regimes.
Zondwa told state broadcaster SABC: ‘My mother did in fact test positive for Covid-19 on the day of her passing.
Zindzi Mandela (pictured in 2013), the daughter of South African anti-apartheid leaders Nelson and Winnie Mandela, tested positive for coronavirus the day she die. She is pictured during the Global Citizen Festival in 2018
Anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela escorts his daughter Zindzi Mandela on her wedding day
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge meets Zindzi Mandela (right) at the film premiere of ‘Mandela: long walk to freedom’ in London on 5 December, 2013
The fourth of Mandela’s children to die
Only two of Nelson’s children, Zemani and Pumla Mandela, are still alive.
Makaziwe, his first child, died in 1948, aged just 18-months-old.
On the same day as his sister, in 1969, Nelson’s eldest son, Madiba Thembekile Mandela, died in a car crash.
In 2005, Nelson’s son Makgatho died of AIDS, leading to the president announcing the need for publicity around the disease.
‘Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary.’
‘Although, this doesn’t therefore mean that she died of Covid-related complications, but simply that she tested positive for it.
He added: ‘Simply by the virtue that there was a positive test, we are therefore obligated to function and work within the framework of the existing regulation related to such cases.’
Zindzi Mandela, South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark, died on Monday morning in hospital.
Zindzi rose to international prominence when she read out Nelson Mandela’s rejection of then-president P.W. Botha’s offer for freedom in 1985.
The white minority government offered to release Nelson Mandela from prison if he denounced violence perpetrated by his movement, the Africa National Congress, against apartheid.
She read his letter rejecting the offer at a packed public meeting which was broadcast around the world.
South Africa has the most confirmed cases in Africa with over 224,000.
Gauteng province – home to Johannesburg where Zindzi died – has the country’s most cases with over 75,000, or 33 per cent.
Provincial official Bandile Masuku, a medical doctor, last week told reporters that Gauteng is preparing over 1.5 million graves.
‘It’s a reality that we need to deal with,’ he said, and it’s the public’s responsibility ‘to make sure that we don’t get there.’
But the province in a statement Thursday sought to calm fears, saying it ‘does not have over a million already open dug graves’ and clarified that the official was saying the province has enough space for that many.
It also said six members of Gauteng’s Covid-19 War Room have tested positive for the virus.
The number of cases in the country is continuing to rise with 12,757 reported on Wednesday alone.
Its death toll is fluctuating with 174 deaths reported on Tuesday and 107 reported on Wednesday. However, the total number of deaths is on an upwards curve.
Modeling has shown that South Africa will have between 40,000 and 80,000 deaths by the end of the year.
Speaking of Zindzi’s death, ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said: ‘This is untimely. She still had a role to play in the transformation of our own society and a bigger role to play even in the African National Congress.’
The Mandela Foundation posted earlier that on this day in 1969, Nelson’s eldest son, Madiba Thembekile – Zindzi’s half brother – died in a three-car collision, which left another four people dead.
Zindzi’s other half-brother, attorney Makgatho Mandela, died of AIDS in 2005.
His death led to an impassioned statement from then President Mandela, who called on the public to ‘give publicity to AIDS’ and to ‘not hide it’.
Another of her siblings died in 1948 at just 18-months old.
Last year Zindzi stirred controversy by calling for the return of the white-owned land to South Africa’s dispossessed Black majority.
‘Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally the land is ours,’ she tweeted in June last year.
President Cyril Ramaphosa led the tributes to Zindzion 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,’ he said.
‘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.
‘Her spirit joins Tata Madiba and Mama Winnie in a reunion of leaders to whom we owe our freedom.’
South Africa’s foreign affairs minister Naledi Pandor has expressed shock at Mandela’s death, describing her as a heroine.
Only two of Nelson’s children, Zemani and Pumla Mandela, are still alive. Madiba Thembekile (right) died on this day in 1969 and Zindzi’s other sibling Makgatho Mandela (left) died of AIDS in Johannesburg in 2005. Another of Mandela’s children died as an infant
Zindzi Mandela (pictured in 2013), the daughter of South African anti-apartheid leaders Nelson and Winnie Mandela, tested positive for coronavirus the day she died
‘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 Pandor.
Zindzi was born in the midst of the anti-apartheid struggle, the same year that her father’s African National Congress created its armed wing. Zindzi, her mother, and her sister Zenani, faced harassment by the ruling National Part while her father was imprisoned on Robben Island, the BBC reported.
In a 1995 interview with Thandy magazine, Zindzi said: ‘I am something of a rebel.’
‘I never knew a normal life,’ she added.
Zindzi Mandela reads the refusal of her father, Nelson Mandela to leave prison after South African President P.W. Botha offered him conditional release on Feb. 10, 1985 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Nelson Mandela with daughter Zinzi Mandela Hlongwane (back) at his birthday party in Johannesburg, 1995
‘The day I buried the father of my child, my own father was released from prison’
Only two of Nelson’s children, Zemani and Pumla, are still alive. Nelson Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation is currently consulting with the Mandela family. The Danish Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the MailOnline.
Zindzi is survived by her husband and four children.
Who was Zindzi Mandela?
Zindzi Mandela was born in 1960, just a year-and-a-half before her father was first incarcerated for anti-government activities.
Her early life was marred with the constant imprisonment of her father and occasional removal of her mother for months-long prison sentences.
Care for the young Zindzi often fell to her older sister Zenani in these early years.
When Zindzi was 17 years old she moved with her mother who had been banished to Free State.
In 1985, Nelson was offered a release from prison by President PW Botha, on the condition that he ‘unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon’.
With both Winnie and Nelson in prison, Zindzi delivered his rejection of the offer at a public meeting.
The letter read: ‘What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people [ANC] remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.’
In her personal life, Zindzi was married twice, first to businessman Zwelibanzi Hlongwane, whom she married in 1980.
Her second marriage, in March 2013, was to Molapo Motlhajwa, of the African National Defence Force.
She also had four children, who she noted were from four different fathers: Zoleka Mandela, (1980), Zondwa Mandela (1985), Bambatha Mandela (1989) and Zwelabo Mandela (1992).