Zindzi Mandela. Picture: WIREIMAGE/ANITA BUGGE
Zindzi Mandela. Picture: WIREIMAGE/ANITA BUGGE

SA’s ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, has died, a close family member has confirmed.

In a brief statement on Monday, the Mandela family said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Mama Zindzi Mandela, youngest daughter of the late ANC stalwarts Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She is survived by her children and grandchildren.

“The memorial service and funeral arrangements are to be announced in the course of the week.” International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said she learnt of the death with shock.

Expressing condolences to the Mandela family, friends and colleagues, Pandor said: “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 SA well.”

Zelda la Grange, former personal assistant to Madiba, who knew her well, posted a tribute to Zindzi on social media, alongside a heartbroken emoji. “My dearest Zindzi. A sensitive, loving soul. A sister. A shoulder. My heart is broken. May you RIP, united with your parents and Zenani jnr. Heartfelt condolences to Zoleka, Zondwa, Zwelabo and Bambatha, grandkids and the rest of the family,” La Grange tweeted.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa on Monday described Zindzi as a “fighter” who had fought from the early days of her life. Holomisa said Zindzi was very close to her late mother.

“We will also remember her during the time when she was campaigning for [Nelson] Mandela to be released. She was vocal. My condolences to the family and her children and sisters.”

She was born on December 23 1960. Zindzi and her sister, Zenani, grew up at the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle as their mother fought both the state and economic hardship as a single mother while their father was incarcerated.

“By the time I was born, on April 9 1980, my mother knew how to strip and assemble an AK-47 in exactly 38 seconds.” These are the opening words of the biography of Zindzi’s eldest daughter, Zoleka, When Hope Whispers.

Zindzi is best remembered for her defiance, which she retained throughout her life, most recently voicing her support of accelerated land reform.

Her first foray into the limelight in her own right was when she read her jailed father’s speech in Jabulani Stadium, Soweto, in February 1985, rejecting then president PW Botha’s conditional offer of freedom.

Five months ago, as South Africans commemorated the 30th anniversary of Madiba’s release from the Victor Verster prison, Zindzi reminisced about the weekends they went to visit him in prison and how, upon his release, she realised she would share him with the nation.