Zindzi Mandela, Youngest Daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Dead at 59

Zindzi Mandela, daughter of anti-apartheid activists Nelson and Winnie Mandela, died early this morning, Monday, July 13, at age 59.

The South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation announced her passing on Monday morning, per CNN. Mandela reportedly died in a Johannesburg hospital.

Zindzi Mandela, youngest daughter of Nelson Mandela, is dead at 59 years old. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

“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,” Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations, said in a statement.

Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, also confirmed her passing and offered his sympathies.

“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,” he tweeted. “Our sadness is compounded by this loss being visited upon us just days before the world marks the birthday of the great Nelson Mandela.”

A cause of death has not been announced. At the time of her death, Zindzi Mandela was South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark and was supposed to become the country’s head of mission in Monrovia, Liberia, according to BBC. She previously served as deputy president of the Soweto Youth Congress and acted as an underground operative for uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed department of the African National Congress, according to Reuters.

“This is untimely,” said African National Congress spokesperson Pule Mabe. “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.”

Zindzi Mandela was Nelson Mandela’s sixth child and his second with Winnie Mandela. In 1985, she famously read a letter written by her incarcerated father in which Mandela rejected a conditional release offer from then South African president P.W. Botha. Mandela wasn’t released from prison until 1990, after serving 27 years; he died in December 2013. Winnie Mandela, his ex-wife, passed away nearly five years later in April 2018.

Pumla Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini now are the only living children of Nelson Mandela. Zindzi Mandela is survived by her husband and four children.

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