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'A sober-minded comrade': Journalists & ordinary citizens mourn Mthembu

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.

Journalists around the country also paid tribute to him.

Politicians, artists, academics and other well-known people also sent condolences and expressed their shock at his passing.

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