President Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement said the Minister passed away in a Pretoria hospital on Saturday after a short illness.
Expressing condolences to the Minister’s family, President Ramaphosa described Molewa’s passing as devastating.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Minister Edna Molewa, as well as to her colleagues in Cabinet and across all spheres of government, who have had the privilege to work alongside an extraordinary leader of our people.
“This is a devastating loss to our nation and to the global community, who owe a great debt of gratitude to the late Minister Molewa for her championship nationally and globally for the environmental integrity of a sustainable planet Earth that can be shared and enjoyed by all nations and all people, rich and poor.”
President Ramaphosa said Minister Molewa had distinguished herself in many capacities and causes — from her contribution to the liberation struggle, to fighting for equality for women in society.
“We shall miss her greatly,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa has declared a period of mourning with immediate effect and ordered that the National Flag be flown at half-mast at all flag stations countrywide and at South African diplomatic missions abroad.
Molewa was the Premier of the North West between 2004 and 2009. Thereafter she was appointed Social Development Minister between 2009 and 2010. She was appointed as Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in 2010 before the two portfolios were split after the 2014 general elections.
She maintained the Environmental Affairs portfolio until her passing.
In July this year, Molewa was awarded the Officier de ’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (Officer in the French Legion of Honour), one of France’s top honours for her contribution to the liberation struggle, women’s rights and her illustrious effort in environmental protection.
Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nadine Gordimer have also received the award.
Details of commemorative events and funeral arrangements will be communicated in due course.
President Ramaphosa, who is due to travel to New York later today for his inaugural participation as Head of State and Government in the United Nations National Assembly, is due to visit the Molewa family in the course of the day. – SAnews.gov.za