The minister in the presidency passed away on Thursday from COVID-19 complications.
FILE: Jackson Mthembu. Picture: Bertram Malgas/Eyewitness News.
JOHANNESBURG – South Africans on Thursday reeled after the news that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu (62) passed away due to COVID-19.
Ten days ago, Mthembu was hospitalised after showing symptoms of the virus. He was the fourth member of the executive who tested positive in that week, along with Employment and Labour Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo, as well as governance’s Obed Bapela. The week before that, the police ministry announced its deputy minister, Cassel Mathale, had contracted COVID-19.
President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed his passing in a statement, extending his condolences to the minister’s family and colleagues.
“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.”
Mthembu was a prominent long serving leader in the African National Congress (ANC) – and served both at Parliament and Luthuli House.
Citizens are also in shock after the news, with many taking to Twitter to pay homage to the leader.
ANC has lost a great leader Jackson Mthembu was one of the sober minded comrade
B. Boy (@GNmtshali) January 21, 2021
As the nation is reeling over the passing of Minister Jackson Mthembu, a dynamic figure, we should laud his immense contribution as a true patron in the Presidency Department. Our heartfelt condolences to the family during this difficult moment.
Rest In Peace Mvelase pic.twitter.com/fA2vaRh8oN
Sibusiso Khoza (@SbiOnage) January 21, 2021
So sad about Jackson Mthembu. Was definitely among my favorite politicians in the country. What a devastating loss to the nation, the majority party and indeed his family. May he rest in peace.#RIPJACKSONMTHEMBU
Qamani (@QamaniNjara) January 21, 2021
Journalists around the country also paid tribute to him.
Ibuhlungu lena shame. I think back to a few years ago when he opened up with vulnerability, about his sons drug addiction. Then candidness about his eldest daughter taking her life. A much loved politician who showed his human heart and realness. Professional &humorous w media
Vuyo Mkize (@vonchy_19) January 21, 2021
#JacksonMthembu was a thoroughly human politician
He was consistently respectful to everyone who crossed his path.
He experienced such pain in his life, but was still so positive, kind and humble
Youll see so many people genuinely grief-stricken today
He will be missed.
Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) January 21, 2021
The last tweet by South African cabinet minister Jackson Mthembu, who died of COVID complications today, was a brief but profound reply to an unsympathetic tweet. pic.twitter.com/YBPnvITpno
Geoffrey York (@geoffreyyork) January 21, 2021
Whether you call or door stop him, for ANC or government issues, Jackson would never be rude or have security chase you away. Always made time to talk to the media and be cordial even in difficult times. Uphumle Mvelase
The Villager (@Penxenxe) January 21, 2021
Politicians, artists, academics and other well-known people also sent condolences and expressed their shock at his passing.
Rest well Jackson. Heartbroken to hear the terrible news that this virus got you
David Scott (@TheKiffness) January 21, 2021
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) January 21, 2021
This is painful.
Minister Jackson Mthembu was simply one of the best human beings I met in government. He was the definition of servanthood and was committed to getting the job done. A humble, approachable leader, eager to learn and help.
The country is so much poorer
Tessa Dooms (@tessie18) January 21, 2021