Zindzi Mandela was born in 1960, just a year-and-a-half before her father was first incarcerated for anti-government activities.

Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of South African anti-apartheid leaders Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela, died Monday morning in the hospital at the age of 59.

Her early life was marred with the constant imprisonment of her father and occasional removal of her mother for months-long prison sentences.

Care for the young Zindzi often fell to her older sister Zenani in these early years.

When Zindzi was 17 years old she moved with her mother who had been banished to Free State.

In 1985, Nelson was offered a release from prison by President PW Botha, on the condition that he ‘unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon’.

With both Winnie and Nelson in prison, Zindzi delivered his rejection of the offer at a public meeting.

The letter read: ‘What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people [ANC] remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.’

In her personal life, Zindzi was married twice, first to businessman Zwelibanzi Hlongwane, whom she married in 1980.

Her second marriage, in March 2013, was to Molapo Motlhajwa, of the African National Defence Force.

She also had four children, who she noted were from four different fathers: Zoleka Mandela, (1980), Zondwa Mandela (1985), Bambatha Mandela (1989) and Zwelabo Mandela (1992).

The fourth of Mandela’s children to die

  • Only two of Nelson’s children, Zemani and Pumla Mandela, are still alive.
  • Makaziwe, his first child, died in 1948, aged just 18-months-old.
  • On the same day as his sister, in 1969, Nelson’s eldest son, Madiba Thembekile Mandela, died in a car crash.
  • In 2005, Nelson’s son Makgatho died of AIDS, leading to the president announcing the need for publicity around the disease.

‘Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary.’


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