Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, was buried at a private funeral on Friday following her death aged 59 earlier this week.
The daughter of Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, she was South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark at the time of her death, which coincided with the anniversary of a car crash that claimed the life of his first son, 51 years earlier.
His family said she had tested positive for coronavirus on the day she died on Monday, but they were still awaiting post-mortem results.
In a eulogy at a virtual memorial Thursday night President Cyril Ramaphosa thanked the Mandela family for “the very important gesture of sharing this information with the nation”.
“In doing so you are helping to encourage social acceptance for sufferers.”
“This is a virus that affects us all, and there should never be any stigma around people who become infected,” said Ramaphosa.
South Africa is now the world’s sixth most affected country with 324,221 cases, including 4,669 deaths.
When Zindzi’s half-brother, Makgatho Mandela, died of an AIDS-related illness in 2005 at the age of 54, the father spoke openly about the cause of the death.
Mandela became one of the first public figures to break the taboo around the AIDS epidemic that had engulfed South Africa.
Zindzi was buried next to her mother — who died two years ago — at a cemetery in Fourways, a northern suburb of Johannesburg.
Radical leftist opposition leader Julius Malema paid tribute to Zindzi for her role in the liberation of South Africa from the shackles of apartheid.
– ‘Shattered’ –
“She survived the most brutal regime at an early age and we thought that this crisis and invisible enemy (coronavirus) we are confronted with today, she is going to survive it because she has seen worse,” said Malema.
“And when people like mama Zindzi succumb to this invisible enemy we all remain hopeless and we are shattered,” Malema told public broadcaster SABC at the cemetery.
Zindzi grew up while her father was incarcerated by the apartheid regime for 27 years.
She was an active member of the African National Congress (ANC) youth movement.
One of her most prominent moments was in 1985 when she read out — in front of a huge crowd of ANC supporters at a Soweto stadium — a letter in which her father rejected an offer of release from the then apartheid president P.W. Botha.
At the time Botha had offered to free Mandela from prison on condition he renounced the anti-apartheid violence and protests.
Only two of Mandela’s six children survive.
Zenani, 61, is South Africa’s ambassador to Argentina while Makaziwe, 66, who was born from Mandela’s first marriage with Evelyn Mase, is a businesswoman in South Africa.
His eldest child Thembekile was killed at the age of 24 in a car crash on July 13, 1969 while his father was imprisoned on Robben Island. A daughter from Mandela’s first marriage died in 1948, nine months after birth.