Public protector Thuli Madonsela says Nelson Mandela's passion for social justice was ever-present during his life.
Public protector Thuli Madonsela said Nelson Mandela's passion for social justice and human rights was ever-present during his life. Madonsela's office issued a statement on Friday, paying tribute to the former president.
She said she would always be grateful to Mandela for being instrumental in the establishment of constitutional checks on power.
"As the public protector team, we woke up, like the rest of the nation and indeed the world, to devastating news of the passing of our iconic former president Nelson Mandela.
"Although we had, for a long time, been alive to the fact that President Mandela was not going to be with us forever, and had somewhat anticipated this eventuality, his departure is a difficult reality to live with.
"We join the nation and the rest of the world in expressing our deepest condolences to president Mandela's family, comrades, South Africans at large and indeed the global community for the loss we have all suffered," said Madonsela.
She described Mandela as a "gift to humanity".
"To people of all colour and creed; from all walks of life, across the globe; president Mandela was truly a gift to humanity. He was an embodiment of the best of humanity; a living expression of reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, inclusiveness, wisdom and represented the ultimate example of steward leadership.
'Fairness, social justice'
"A lawyer by profession, who was passionate about human rights, president Mandela's respect for fairness, social justice and rule of law was evident prior to, during and after his five-year term of office as South Africa's first democratically elected president.
"Having been vocal against unjust laws during apartheid South Africa, resulting in incarceration for the greater part of his active adult years, he stepped up as president, serving as a leader whose actions spoke louder than his words."
"We will always admire him for gladly submitting his administration to the scrutiny of checks and balances such as the courts and institutions supporting democracy when its actions came into question. He did this without treating such important accountability mechanisms as an irritation."
The public protector said the best tribute the country could pay to Mandela would be to honour his legacy:
" … to preserve and deepen the impact of his legacy of steward leadership and dedication to the betterment of the human condition, human dignity and social justice. It is our duty to ensure that the world where children are not malnourished, play freely and are given the opportunity to fulfil their human potential is realised.
"That is a world where colour is an issue of beauty rather than a divisive factor; where women and men enjoy equal rights and respect, the old, frail and disabled enjoy equal significance; and each person is judged by the content of their character. That is the best send-off we could ever give Tata Madiba. May his soul rest in eternal peace."