Anti-apartheid activist Professor Saths Cooper has described Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, as a thoughtful and compassionate person.

The 69-year-old Deputy Minister was appointed to the portfolio in 2019 by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Professor Mkhize passed away on Thursday morning after a short illness.

In a statement, the department says it is shocked to have learned about her passing.

Mkhize was born on September 6, 1952.

Cooper says Mkhize sought to make positive changes in South Africa.

“I think most of us have been severely shocked by this untimely passing. Just ten days ago, we marked her 69th birthday. Hlengiwe was not merely a political personality, but she was a wonderfully thoughtful and compassionate person.”

“She was always concerned about the role of children and what we are doing in terms of changing the dented psyche of our troubled nation,” adds Cooper.

Saths Cooper reacts to the passing of Mkhize:

Mkhize passionate about her work

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa has described Mkhize as a person who was passionate about her work.

Holomisa has sent his condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

“She was very passionate about her work. On behalf of the UDM, I would like to pass our condolences to her family and [the ANC] organisation. Hlengiwe Mkhize was a role model, a good listener and a person who doesn’t make a noise when she expressed her view. She was a scholar of note,” says Holomisa.

Holomisa pays tribute to Mkhize:

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is saddened by the passing of Mkhize.

The late Deputy Minister was previously South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands.

She was an activist who played a role in the struggle for freedom under her political home, the ANC.

Mkhize also served in different portfolios in government, including the Department of Higher Education and Home Affairs among others.