“It is with deep sorrow and shock that we announce that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu passed away earlier today from COVID-related complications. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of loss,” President Ramaphosa tweeted.
“Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy. He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss,” Ramaphosa added.
On January 11 Mthembu tweeted that he had contracted Covid-19.
“Today I visited the Military hospital in Tshwane to get medical attention for an abdominal pain. After undergoing some tests, I tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.
Mthembu then thanked the South Africans who wished him a speedy recovery and said the country “must overcome Covid-19.”
John Steenhuisen, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, which is the opposition party in South Africa, said he was “devastated” to learn about the minister’s passing.
As of Wednesday South Africa’s Department of Health reported 1,369,426 cases of Covid-19 and 38,854 deaths.
In addition to extending the existing measures, Ramaphosa announced that 20 land borders will be closed until February 15.