President Cyril Ramaphosa says the passing of Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Professor Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize is a national loss.
The 69-year-old died on Thursday.
Mkhize was appointed Minister in the Presidency in May 2019.
Ramaphosa says he is deeply saddened by her passing. In a statement, the president reflected on the contribution Mkhize made to the country.
“Prof Mkhize’s legacy is indelible across so many dimensions and sectors of our national life.
“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.
“Prof 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.
“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."
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said the ANC caucus lost a formidable leader who served with courage, dignity and respect.
“The African National Congress Parliamentary Caucus has today learnt with shock and sadness of the passing of ANC MP and Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Professor Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize and extends its heartfelt condolences to her family.
“In her untimely departure, South Africa has lost a selfless patriot, a well-rounded cadre and experienced global citizen with vast experience in civil society struggles and a passionate defender of human rights with a commitment for improving the quality of lives of women, children and people with disabilities,” Majodina said.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa paid tribute to her on Twitter shortly after news of her death broke.
He wrote: “My condolences to her family and her organisation, ANC. She rode to prominence when she was one of the TRC Commissioners. A very passionate individual about her work. RIP Sisi”.
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. She was also a former ambassador to the Netherlands.