Environment Affairs Minister Edna Molewa dies at age 61

Environment Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has died at the age of 61.

FILE: The late Edna Molewa pictured during January 2018. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Environment Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has died at the age of 61.

She passed away on Saturday following a period of illness.

The minister was also an African National Congress (ANC) NEC member.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has offered his condolences to the minister's family, saying that her death is a "devastating loss to our nation and to the global community" as she was known as a champion of the environment.

The president has also thanked Molewa for her contribution to the country's fight for liberation.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said: β€œThe president has extended his heartfelt condolences to her family [and] loved ones. He also has ordered a period of national mourning with immediate effect and directed that all flags be flown at half-mast at all government buildings, as well as, the South African missions abroad.”

Diko says details of her funeral arrangements will be announced soon.

Molewa was appointed as the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in 2010 before her ministry was split in 2014 where she was placed at the helm of what became the Ministry of Environmental Affairs.

She had also previously served as North West premier in 2004, making her the first female premier of the province.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)