JOHANNESBURG, 21 January 2021 – South Africa’s minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu, has died of complications from the new coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Thursday.

Mthembu was 62.

He was a long-serving member of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) and a close friend of President Ramaphosa.

Jackson Mthembu - Photo News24

Jackson Mthembu – Photo News24

He was “an exemplary leader” and “life-long champion of democracy,” Ramaphosa said Thursday of his friend.

In two of Mthembu’s last tweets, posted ten days ago, he confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus and expressed optimism that South Africans “as a people… must overcome COVID-19”.

Many South Africans are mourning him by writing tributes to his life and leadership on Twitter and Facebook.

More than half of the 200,000 new cases of COVID-19 detected across Africa over the last week, were in South Africa.

The country confirmed 220,000 new cases in the two weeks since last January 7.

A total of 1.37 million cases of the virus have been detected in the county (12,710 cases over the last 24 hours alone) with 38,854 fatalities (566 of them over the last 24 hours alone).

About 30 percent of Africa’s COVID-19 cases have been recorded in South Africa where 1.16 million people have recovered from the virus.

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