South African Cabinet Minister Dies of COVID-19

South African Cabinet Minister Jackson Mthembu has died of COVID-19 at the age of 62, President Cyril Rampahosa announced on Jan. 21.

South African Cabinet Minister Jackson Mthembu has died of COVID-19 at the age of 62, President Cyril Rampahosa announced on Jan. 21.

“It is with deep sorrow and shock that we announce that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu passed away earlier today from COVID-related complications,” Rampahosa stated in a tweet.

“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,” Ramaphosa added.

Mthembu was one of the key government leaders in the pandemic response and who often appeared in public COVID-19 press briefings.

“He was the face of the government in the last few months communicating to the country on COVID-19. I would say he died with his boots on,” African National Congress (ANC) Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte said.

Mthembu is the first member of the cabinet to pass away from COVID-19 after testing positive on Jan. 11, the same day Ramaphosa extended the COVID-19 measures, citing a surge in cases due to a more contagious variant detected last year.

John Steenhuisen, who is the leader of opposition party Democratic Alliance, stated in a tweet that he was “devastated to learn of the passing” of Mthembu and described him as a “true South African patriot.”

According to South Africa’s Department of Health, the country has recorded a total of 39,501 COVID-19 deaths. The country has also recorded 11,381 new cases on Jan. 21, bringing the total number of cases to 1,380,807.


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