South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu died on Thursday of coronavirus-related complications, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.Ramaphosa said in a statement that the minister succumbed to COVID-19 on Thursday morning. He was 62.
“It is with deep sorrow and shock that we announce that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu passed away earlier today from COVID-related complications,” Ramaphosa said.
He described Mthembu as an “exemplary leader, an activist and lifelong champion of freedom and democracy.”
“He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade whose passing leaves our nation at a loss,” Ramaphosa said.
The late minister was an integral part of the government’s team spearheading the fight against COVID-19 in South Africa.
He was responsible for communicating government’s messages in the fight against the pandemic.
His death comes as South Africa is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections, with more than 1.38 million cumulative cases and over 39,500 deaths as of Friday morning.