Thabo Mbeki's mother dies

Epainette Mbeki passed away at the age of 98 at a private hospital in East London.

Epainette Mbeki passed away at the age of 98 at a private hospital in East London. Picture: KFM

CAPE TOWN - The mother of former president Thabo Mbeki, Epainette has passed away.

She passed away at the age of 98 at a private hospital in East London in the Eastern Cape.

Epainette Mbeki was admitted to hospital two weeks ago for medical observation after she experienced respiratory problems.

The presidency's Mac Maharaj said, "President Jacob Zuma received the news with sadness. She was an activist and dedicated her life and family to the struggle from an early age."

Epainette was born on 16 February in 1916 at Mount Fletcher in the Easter Cape. She was the sixth of seven children.

Ma-Mbeki, as she was popularly known, began her teaching career at Taylor Street Secondary School in Durban.

One of her fellow teachers was Govan Mbeki, the man who later became her husband in January 1940.

She joined the South African Communist Party in 1938 and while her husband became involved in national politics, Epainette ran a store and raised her four children.

Her son, Thabo, attributes much of his political success to his mother.

MaMbeki has been honoured with numerous accolades including the Community Builder of the Year Award, the King Cetshwayo African Image Award and the Order of the Baobab in Gold.