Minister of environmental affairs Edna Molewa passed away at 61 years of age on Saturday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the passing of the Environmental affairs minister who died at a Pretoria hospital after a battling an illness.
A period of mourning has been declared by the president effective immediately. He ordered that the national flag be flown at half mast at all flag stations countrywide including the South African diplomatic missions abroad.
Parliament officers, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of provinces Tandi Modise said they were short of words to express their sorrow and disbelief at losing a dedicated leader of the people and a long serving member of parliament.
Molewa worked with absolute dedication and integrity since becoming an MP in 1994. Parliament lorded her contributions in building South Africa’s young parliament and all its systems, as she became the first woman chairperson of the trade and industry portfolio committee in 1994.
“Her passing on is a tragedy and a great loss to our country, the continent of Africa, and the world over, because minister Molewa leaves us at a critical time when some of the warnings about environmental degradation have come to pass. We trust that on the occasion of passing on millions more people in this country and across the world would make new pledges to spare no effort in protecting our environment. Parliament extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of the late minister Molewa. May her soul rest in peace.”
This was followed by North West’s premier Job Mokgoro who said the province was still expecting a lot from her as she played a leading role in promoting environmental conservation.
He wished the Molewa family solace in knowing that Molewa had done her part in positioning South Africa on the world map.
“We must take from her qualities that which will take the North West province and South Africa forward. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” he said.
The 61-year-old Molewa served as North West agriculture, conservation, and environment MEC after 1994 before being elected African National Congress provincial chairperson and premier from 2004 to 2009. She was later appointed social development minister before being appointed environmental affairs minister.
The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in the North West also paid tribute to Molewa, saying her death was a loss to South Africa and the communities that she had served in her various capacities.
She will be remembered for her tireless efforts, sterling contributions, as well as her leadership in “stabilising the third provincial administration, for working harmoniously with our traditional leaders, supporting emerging farmers and female entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector during her tenure as MEC for agriculture in the province”, Sanco provincial chairman Paul Sebegoe said.