ANC and IFP veteran and former deputy security minister Joe Matthews died in a Johannesburg clinic on Thursday, his daughter, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, confirmed.
“My dad was in hospital for about a week and a half… it just happened an hour ago. We’re all trying to cope with a very horrible situation,” she said in a brief telephonic interview.
Matthews died of natural causes, she said, referring all further queries to her office.
Matthews retired from Parliament in 2004.
He was 81 and died in the Milpark Hospital.
The son of legendary ANC leader ZK Matthews, Vincent Joseph Gaobakwe Matthews was born on June 17 1929 in Durban.
His career in politics and the legal profession spanned six decades, after he joined the ANC Youth League as a teenager in 1944. He was to leave the organisation almost 50 years later, joining the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in the early 1990s after the ANC split with that party’s leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
It was with the IFP that Matthews served as deputy safety and security minister — from 1994 up to his retirement a decade later — in the Cabinets of both former president Nelson Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki.
Matthews and his father were among the 156 accused, along with Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other senior ANC leaders, in the 1956 Treason Trial, which ended in 1961 with the acquittal of all involved.
After matriculating in Johannesburg in 1947, Matthews went on to obtain a BA degree from Fort Hare University in 1952, an LLB from the University of London in 1956, and a master’s degree in history from the same institution 12 years later.
Passing the advocates’ admission exam in 1957, Matthews became an attorney of the Supreme Court the next year, and practised in Durban up to 1960, before moving to Lesotho.
He later became assistant Attorney General in Botswana.
Matthews lived in The Netherlands from 1986 to 1991, when he returned to South Africa. He joined the IFP in 1992.
Away from the law and politics, Matthews enjoyed playing the piano, preferably classical music. He was widely travelled, and had written extensively for journals and other publications.
After his retirement, he lectured and served as a legal consultant.
Archival news items indicate that Matthews had in earlier years been admitted to hospital with diabetes-related complications.
His wife, Regina Thelma, died in 2002. The couple had seven children. — Sapa