Who was Zindzi Mandela? South African politician and Nelson Mandela's daughter passes away at 59

Zindzi Mandela has passed away at the age of 59
Zindzi Mandela has died at the age of 59 (Getty Images)Zindzi Mandela has died at the age of 59 (Getty Images)
Zindzi Mandela has died at the age of 59 (Getty Images)

Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 59.

State television SABC reported that Zindzi Mandela passed away during the early hours of 13 July 2020, at a Johannesburg hospital. The cause of death has not yet been specified.

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South Africa's foreign affairs minister, Naledi Pandor, was among the first to express sadness at the news.

"Zindzi will not only be remembered as a daughter of our struggle heroes, Tata Nelson and Mama Winnie Mandela, but as a struggle heroine in her own right. She served South Africa well," said Ms Pandor.

Born against the backdrop of apartheid

Born in 1960 against the backdrop of a divided South Africa, much of Zindzi Mandela’s early life would be defined by her parents’ roles as anti-apartheid leaders

The year 1960 was also when the African National Congress (ANC) - the anti-apartheid party which Zindzi Mandela’s father had been a part of since 1943 - armed themselves, following their ban in the same year.

She was the sixth child of Nelson Mandela and the second of Nelson and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Zindzi was one year old when her father was arrested and subsequently imprisoned at Robben Island, where he would remain until 1990. During Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, Zindzi was ubject to years of harrasment and abuse by the ruling apartheid government.

Zindzi Mandela rose to prominence in 1985 when she read her father’s rejection to a promise of conditional release from then President PW Botha.

Champion of radical land reform

Ms Mandela served as South Africa's ambassador to Denmark from 2015 until the time of her death.

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Last year, she sparked controversy by calling for the return of white-owned land to South Africa's dispossessed black majority.

"Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally #TheLandIsOurs," she tweeted in June last year.

Ms Mandela is survived by her husband and four children.