Minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu, has died of Covid-19 related complications.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement on Thursday that Mthembu died earlier that morning. He was 62 at the time of his death.
Mthembu has been at the forefront of the government’s fight against the coronavirus, which is wreaking havoc in the country. He was responsible for communicating government’s messages in the fight against the pandemic.
As of Wednesday night, 38,854 people had died across SA of Covid-19 related complications, while nearly 1.37 million had been confirmed as infected since the virus outbreak in the country in March last year.
Ramaphosa said: “Minister Mthembu was 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.
“I extend my deepest sympathies to the minister’s family, to his colleagues, comrades and many friends.”
On January 11, Mthembu announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19 after “showing some symptoms”.
Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said at the time that he “remains in high spirits and wishes all those who are also fighting the coronavirus a speedy recovery”.
Mthembu was the fourth cabinet member to be confirmed as infected the with coronavirus.
Mthembu said: “We once again urge all South Africans to play their part by continuing to regularly wash or sanitise their hands, properly wear a face mask and practise physical distancing at all times.”