Author and activist Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of South Africa’s first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela, has died of cancer at the age of 43, BBC reported. ”Zoleka passed away on the evening of Monday, September 25th, surrounded by friends and family. Our sincerest gratitude to the medical team that took care of her,” the statement, shared on her official Instagram account, said.
As per the statement, she had been ”admitted into hospital for ongoing treatment for metastatic cancer to the hip, liver, lung, pelvis, brain and spinal cord.”
“Recent scans revealed significant disease progression including fibrosis in the lungs as well as several emboli,” the statement further read.
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Born on April 9, 1980, Zoleka Mandela was an outspoken writer and activist for health care and justice throughout her life. She was the grandchild of Nelson Mandela and his second wife, Winnie Mandela. Her activism also included road safety campaigns after her 13-year-old daughter, Zenani, was killed in a car crash in 2010. She is survived by four children.
Ms. Mandela had also documented her cancer treatment in recent years, as well as being open about sexual abuse in her childhood, and addiction to drugs. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32 and underwent treatment including a double mastectomy, but the cancer returned in 2016.
“What do I tell my children? How do I tell them that this time around I may not get to live my life as a survivor? How do I tell them everything will be OK when it’s not? I’m dying… I don’t want to die,” she wrote on Instagram in August 2022.
”The Nelson Mandela Foundation extends its heartfelt condolences to the Mandela family on the passing of Zoleka Mandela, tragically last night. We mourn the loss of a beloved grandchild of Mum Winnie and Madiba and a friend of the Foundation,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement released on Tuesday morning.
”Her work in raising awareness about cancer prevention and her unwavering commitment to breaking down the stigma surrounding the disease will continue to inspire us all,” it added.
Notably, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the former president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Mr. Mandela is widely regarded as a leader of social justice and a staunch advocate for democracy. He opposed the racist system of apartheid in South Africa and dedicated his life to establishing social equality for all. For his extensive work on social reform, he received over 250 honours and was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.