Zindzi Mandela buried next to her mom and grandchildren

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

FRIENDS of the late struggle activist and diplomat Zindziswa “Zindzi” Mandela-Hlongwane held red roses and her coffin was carried over a red carpet in a poignant, emotional and dignified final farewell to her.

Zindzi, who died this week, was buried today next to her mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her two grandchildren Zinawe and Zenani after a private funeral service at the Fourways Memorial Garden in Johannesburg.

Zindzi was the youngest daughter of liberation icons Madikizela-Mandela and the great Nelson Mandela. She was buried a day before what would have been her father’s 102nd birthday. Her family disclosed that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

At the short funeral service, her son Zondwa, paid a special tribute to his mom. A special video recording, a farewell from her grandchildren, was played. Jeff Radebe, former minister in the presidency, spoke on behalf of the ANC and the government in a service presided over by Methodist Bishop Gary Rivas.

Among the dignitaries who attended the funeral service were Lindiwe Sisulu, a family friend and South Africa Minister of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation, Johannesburg Mayor Jeff Makhubu and Julius Malema, leader in the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The media was not allowed into the private funeral service, held in terms of the government’s strict COVID-19 regulations. Several people who wanted to attend the service were turned away by cemetery security. 

On the eve of her burial, the ANC Women’s League held a memorial service. ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, also president of South Africa, emphasized that Zindzi was an activist in her own right and made an invaluable contribution.

Ramaphosa’s contribution followed tributes from leaders of the ANCWL, led by Jessie Duarte, the ANC deputy secretary general.

Zindzi’s funeral came at the end of the week during which South Africans, Africans and others throughout the world paid tribute to Zindzi.

Among those who sent their tributes was celebrated African football legend Didier Drogba, of Ivory Coast.  Drogba used two broken heart emoji on social media and said: “My comrade, my sister, I can’t believe the news. Rest in heaven”.

The retired football star, who won several awards in Africa and England, where he played for Chelsea, met Zindzi during a visit to South Africa to launch a campaign to raise awareness for road safety. The campaign was launched after Zindzi’s granddaughter and Mandela’s great-granddaughter Zenani (13) was killed in a road accident. Drogba also had a special relationship with Mandela.

Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa’s Minister of Human Settlements, Waters and Sanitation posted a tribute. “In life I loved you dearly, and in death, big sister loves you still.” Sisulu is daughter of late ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu who was Mandela’s friend and comrade.

Zindzi’s favourite football team, Orlando Pirates, winner of South Africa’s first CAF Club championship, said: “Once a Pirate, always a Pirate. Rest in Peace.”

This is Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the Afrian Union Commission’s message: “I join the continent in grief at the passing of Ambassador Zindzi Mandela who I last saw in Soweto at her mother’s home when I came to present my condolences following her death. My prayers go to the late Ma Zindzi’s family, the people and government of South Africa for this painful loss.”

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki said Zindzi’s death has deprived South Africa of an activist for liberation, democracy and “a better life for our people”.

In a statement, Mbeki and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) said the media, in covering Zindzi’s death, had correctly reminded everyone of the special contribution Zindzi made in 1985. “Quite correctly and fortunately, the media has made it a point to remind us of the contribution she made further to inspire the struggling masses of our people when she delivered at the Johannesburg Jabulani Theatre in 1985, President Mandela’s message from prison,” the statement said.

Mbeki and the TMF joined South Africans from all walks of life and across the political spectrum have paid warm tributes to Zindziswa “Zindzi” Mandela, who has died, aged 59.

Over 25 000 individuals flooded social media platforms to celebrate the life and times of Zindzi.

South frican President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was deeply saddened by the passing of Zindzi.

Ramaphosa said: ”I offer my deep condolences to the Mandela family as we mourn the passing of a fearless political activist who was a leader in her own right. Our sadness is compounded by this loss being visited upon us just days before the world marks the birthday of the great Nelson Mandela.

“Zindzi Mandela was a household name nationally and internationally, who during our years of struggle brought home the inhumanity of the apartheid system and the unshakeable resolve of our fight for freedom. 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. Her spirit joins Tata Madiba and Mama Winnie in a reunion of leaders to whom we owe our freedom.”

The ANC highlighted Zindzi’s achievement and said it honoured her for her personal sacrifices in the struggle to liberate and emancipate the rest of South Africa’s people. “Zindzi expressed her views without fear or favor and a leader in her own name and right,” the ANC said in a statement.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Zindzi will be remembered for a rich and extraordinary life, marked by many iconic moments. The NMF recalled the years Zindzi spent banished with her mother,  Madikizela-Mandela, to the small town of Brandfort. The organisation also recalled a summer’s day in February 1985 at Jabulani Stadium when Zindzi read to the world, Mandela’s rejection of apartheid president P.W Botha’s offer of a conditional release from prison. 

“We will also remember her as a special soul. She worked with the Foundation on many projects over the years, for instance, the book Hunger for Freedom, by author Anna Trapido. We valued her generosity, her warmth and her sense of humour. She was always patient in responding to our requests for information and other forms of assistance. And we admired her strength in dealing with life’s challenges and tragedies,” the NMF said in a statement.

Family friend Bantu Holomisa, who is also leader of the United Democratic Movement said he was shocked by Zindzi’s passing. “She was so like her mom and worked closely with her to make sure that her father and other political prisoners were freed. Our condolences to the family and may her soul rest in peace,” Holomisa said.

South Africa’s Minister of International and Cooperation, Dr. Naledi Pandor expressed shock at the news of the passing away of Zindzi.

Pandor said: “Zindzi will not only be remembered as a daughter of our struggle heroes, Tata Nelson and Mama Winnie Mandela but as a struggle heroine in her own right. She served South Africa well.”