President Cyril Ramaphosa mourns deputy minister Hlengiwe Mkhize


President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the passing of deputy minister in the presidency for women, youth and persons with disabilities, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize as a national loss.

Mkhize died at the age of 69 yesterday after a short illness, according to communications director in her office, Shalen Gajadhar.

Ramaphosa said: "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.”

He said she played a crucial role in conflict resolution during SA's 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 [TRC], chairperson of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, and trustee of the National Peace Accord Trust,” Ramaphosa said.

Mkhize was first appointed a member of the National Assembly in 2009 and served in various positions.

During her appointment, she sought to “deal with the question of ensuring that the youth are educated and skilled for employment”, according to parliamentary records.

Mkhize had been acting as minister since 2019. Before that, she served as minister of higher education and training and as deputy minister in the correctional services and telecommunications ministries.

Mkhize also served as SA’s ambassador to the Netherlands from 2005 to 2008. She was then the deputy minister of correctional services from May 2009 to June 2012, and the deputy minister of economic development from June 2012 until May 2014.

The South African Communist Party described Mkhize as a stalwart of the South African struggle for social emancipation.

The party said she leaves a shining legacy in so far as her contribution to the struggle for gender equality is concerned. "She dedicated her knowledge and skills to advocate for women’s access to land and the economy at large," said party spokesperson Alex Mashilo.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Mr Amos Masondo also paid tribute to Mkhize.

"Ms Mkhize's life was devoted to the service of the people of South Africa, and she did so with excellence, unwavering commitment and selflessness. A lifelong advocate and fighter for liberation, democracy, social justice and equality. She was instrumental in South Africa's political transition, including as Commissioner in the Truth and the Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Chairperson of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee and board member of the South African Prisoner's Organisation for Human Rights," said the presiding officers.

The ANC said through Mkhize's death it had lost a dedicated servant of the nation.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa also paid tribute to Mkhize describing her as a "very passionate individual".

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