Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize – the former minister of home affairs – has passed away at the age of 69.
The cause of death has not yet been confirmed at this stage.
A ‘national loss’
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday he was “deeply saddened” by Mkhize’s passing, and that her death constituted “a national loss”.
“Prof 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.
“She availed herself for service at the international level, including her representation of Transparency International South Africa in global institutions.
“Prof Mkhize played a crucial role in conflict resolution during our transition to democracy”.
Ramaphosa said the country owed Mkhize gratitude and “deep respect” for the commitment she displayed as a Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Chairperson of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, and trustee of the National Peace Accord Trust.
‘Building a better SA’
He said Mkhize “set a profound example for all of us by immersing herself in building a better South Africa while pursuing a multifaceted path as an academic”.
“She applied her extraordinary personal achievements to the upliftment of traumatised children, to asserting the equality of oppressed women, to upholding the human rights of victimised people around the world”.
“She played her part unselfishly and with great love for humanity. Our task is to keep her legacy intact and build on it. May her soul rest in peace”.
Who was Mkhize?
Mkhize was also the minister of higher education between 2017 and 2018, and served as the deputy minister in the Presidency for women, youth and persons with disabilities.
Mkhize founded the Children and Violence Trust in 1995, and has served as a member of Parliament (MP) since 2009. She was appointed as deputy minister of telecommunications and postal services in 2014.
Three years later, former president Jacob Zuma appointed her as minister of home affairs.
Mkhize was removed from Cabinet by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February 2018.
Mkhize held a BA degree in psychology, social work and sociology from the University of Zululand, as well as BA (Hons) in psychology and a master’s in clinical psychology from the University of Natal.
She was a senior lecturer and researcher at Wits from 1990 until 1995, and was a board member of the South African Prisoner’s Organisation for Human Rights from 1994 to 1995.
Prior to her appointment in 2009, Mkhize was ambassador to the Netherlands.