President Jacob Zuma expressed sadness on Wednesday over the death of Martha Mahlangu, mother of freedom fighter Solomon "Kalushi" Mahlangu.
"On behalf of government and the people of South Africa, we wish to convey our heartfelt condolences on her passing and may her soul rest in peace," Zuma said in a statement. Mahlangu and her granddaughter attended the State of the Nation Address in Parliament in February as Zuma's special guests.
Mahlangu died at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.
The presidency said Zuma would launch the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund on Friday, which would provide financial support to deserving South African youth, especially from rural areas. Zuma would bestow scholarship awards to youth who would pursue full time studies that fall within the priority growth sectors, critical and scarce skills areas.
"I am very saddened that Mama Mahlangu did not live to see the launch of this scholarship fund in honour of her son but we will continue to preserve the legacy of Solomon Mahlangu and all those who laid down their lives for our freedom and democracy," Zuma said.
Solomon was hanged at Pretoria Central Prison on April 6 1979 for the murder of two white civilians in Johannesburg two years prior.
Celebrating 'a life well lived'
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) also sent its heartfelt condolences to the Mahlangu family.
"Mme Mahlangu gave South Africa and the world the greatest gift through the birth of the late Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, who became instrumental in the fight against apartheid," the NYDA said in a statement. "Her passing is indeed a great loss not only to the immediate Mahlangu family but to the rest of South Africa. However, while we must mourn this great loss, we must in the same vein celebrate a life well lived."
The agency said, following the courageous actions of her son, it was only fair that she rested in peace. NYDA executive chair Yershen Pillay said: "They will now be together and from the heavens celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy for which they gave their entire lives."
The city of Tshwane in a statement mourned her death as a resident of Mamelodi. Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said it would be difficult to wake up and accept Martha's passing.
"In this moment of sadness and disbelief, we dip our heads and lower our flags in homage to this great citizen of the capital city," he said. "We as the city believe that she deserves an honour more than just a civic funeral and memorial; but an inscription of her name on the roll of those who shaped our consciences as we rebuild our capital city and South Africa forward."
"As she passes on we feel the fading pulses of another great African heart that ceased to beat. In her entire life, Mama Mahlangu refused to allow that her people should be defined in any way other than what they chose for themselves," he said.
Ramokgopa has convened an urgent special mayoral committee for Thursday to decide on the conferring of befitting burial honours for Martha Mahlangu, in consultation with the Mahlangu family and the ANC. – Sapa