South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described Mthembu as a “much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of loss,” Ramaphosa said.
STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ON THE PASSING OF MINISTER JACKSON MTHEMBU
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.
— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) January 21, 2021
Mthembu revealed that he had become infected with the virus ten days ago, announcing at the time that he was “showing some symptoms.”
The late minister played a prominent role in South Africa’s coronavirus response, taking responsibility for communicating government messaging on the pandemic to the public.
Mthembu was the fourth cabinet-level official known to have contracted the deadly virus since it was first detected in country in March of last year.
South Africa is by far the coronavirus-stricken country on the continent, with nearly 1.4 million confirmed infections and almost 39,000 recorded COVID-19 deaths.