Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has died after a short illness, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Saturday.
Molewa, 61, passed away at a Pretoria hospital on Saturday, he said in a statement.
“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.
“Minister Molewa has distinguished herself in many capacities and causes from her contribution to our liberation to fighting for equality of women in our society. We shall miss her greatly,” he said.
Ramaphosa 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.
Details of commemorative events and funeral arrangements would be announced in due course, he said.
Ramaphosa, who was due to travel to New York later on Saturday for his inaugural participation as head of state and government in the United Nations National General Assembly, would visit the Molewa family during the course of the day.