South African minister dies of COVID-19

Ebunoluwa Olafusi

Jackson Mthembu, South African minister in the presidency, has died of COVID-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the death of Mthembu on Thursday.

Describing him as “an exemplary leader”, Ramaphosa condoled with the deceased friends and family.

“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.


“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of loss.

“Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy. He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the Minister’s family, to his colleagues, comrades and many friends.”


The late Mthembu had, in a tweet on January 11, announced that he tested positive for the virus.

“Today I visited the Military hospital in Tshwane to get medical attention for an abdominal pain. After undergoing some tests, I tested positive for Covid 19. Plans are afoot to get all my family members and close associates tested as well,” he had tweeted.

“I want to thank the many South Africans who have wished me a speedy recovery. As a people, we must overcome Covid 19.”

The post was his last on Twitter.

The 62-year-old deceased was an activist that fought against apartheid in the country in his younger days.

He was the spokesman for African National Congress (ANC) from 2009 to 2014.


He also served as the chief whip of the ANC from 2016 to 2019 before his appointment as minister.

South Africa has recorded 1,369,426 cases of COVID-19. About 38,854 people have lost their lives to the disease.

Owing to a significant rise in cases, the government, on January 11, extended existing COVID-19 restrictions in the country.

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