Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi dies at 59

Zindzi Mandela

Zindziswa Mandela, the youngest daughter of South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has died at the age of 59.

Zindziswa had tested positive for Covid-19 when she died, her son, Zondwa Mandela confirmed.

She was ambassador to Denmark after years as a voice against apartheid, alongside her parents, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Ms Mandela had been posted to Denmark in 2015 and had been designated to become South Africa's head of mission in Monrovia, Liberia.

Born in December 1960, in Soweto, Johannesburg, Zindzi was 18 months old when her father was arrested and convicted of sabotage and treason. She was 3 when he was sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island.

Ms Mandela grew up at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle. With her father imprisoned on Robben Island, she endured years of harassment and intimidation by the apartheid regime, along with her sister Zenani, and her mother Winne.

At age 12 she wrote to the United Nations, urging it to intervene to protect her mother, herself an anti-apartheid activist, from the South African authorities.

She later attended a boarding school in neighbouring Swaziland and received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Cape Town. Soon after graduating, she became her father’s emissary.

She first came to international prominence in 1985, when the white minority government offered to release Mr Mandela from prison if he denounced violence perpetrated by his movement, the Africa National Congress, against apartheid.

Her death came just days ahead of Nelson Mandela Day, on July 18, an annual celebration held on his birthday. He died in 2013. Her funeral will most likely be limited to 50 people, in line with South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown, officials said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement, said: “After our liberation she became an icon of the task we began of transforming our society and stepping into spaces and opportunities that had been denied to generations of South Africans.”

Nobel peace laureate and former archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu also paid tribute to Ms Mandela, saying that she "played a critical role in symbolising the humanity and steadfastness of the anti-apartheid struggle."

Zindzi was married twice, first to a businessman, Zwelibanzi Hlongwane, in 1992, and in 2013 to Molapo Motlhajwa, a veteran of the armed wing of the African National Congress, who survives her.

Zindzi is also survived by her four children - daughter, Zoleka Mandela, and her sons, Zondwa, Bambatha and Zwelabo Mandela.