The late Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Hlengiwe Mkhize has been remembered as a gallant fighter for women's rights and a humble and dependent servant.
On Thursday, mourners, including senior government officials and ministers, gathered at a sombre memorial service in Johannesburg to remember Mkhize, who died last week at the age of 69.
African National Congress (ANC) treasurer-general Paul Mashatile said Mkhize's death had brought with it a deep sense of grief and sadness, "We will always remember her as a servant of the people. Death has robbed us of a cadre that displayed some of the finest qualities required by our movement. We will always remember her as a humble and dependent servant of our people. She was a person of principle and an intellectual of note. We will never forget the many years she worked tirelessly. In her, people with disabilities found a valuable ally."
Mkhize was a member of the ANC national executive committee elected at the 54th national conference in 2017 and previously served as treasurer-general of the ANC Women's League.
She was appointed as Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on 30 May 2019.
Mkhize also served as chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications from October 2018 to May 2019.
She was also Minister of Higher Education and Training from October 2017 to November 2018 and Minister of Home Affairs from March 2017 to October 2017.
Between 2014 and 2017, Mkhize was Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services.
Before that, she served as Deputy Minister of Economic Development from June 2012 to May 2014.
Furthermore, she served as Deputy Minister of Higher Education from November 2010 to June 2012 and Deputy Minister of Correctional Services from May 2009 to November 2010.
Between 2005 and 2008, she served as South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands.
Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane described Mkhize as being caring towards those she worked with.
"She was beautiful inside and outside. She did not want to make her pain a pronouncement. She wanted to continue serving. I worked with her. She never wanted the discussion on how unwell she was. She took care of the people. Let us now allow her to go and rest in peace because, serving the people of South Africa, she did every day," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
A family friend Mamsy Khoza said when she met Mkhize about 28 years ago, they "just clicked".
"She had a passion for children. My friendship with her grew when she became part of the Ubuntu Women's Club. I want to revisit a personal note. Whenever we went for lunch, she always ordered potatoes. She would also say she and potatoes were friends. I knew from that sentiment that she was someone I wanted to hold close to me and my family. Sis Hlengiwe was fearless and brave. She was dignified and hardworking," Khoza said.
Apart from her government positions, Mkhize was a qualified clinical psychologist and registered with the Medical and Dental Council of South Africa in 1981.
She was also appointed as honorary professor in the Department of Psychology by the University of South Africa in 2010.
The family said Mkhize had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017. She was admitted to hospital on 31 August 2021.
Mkhize is survived by her husband, Pat, three daughters, a son, and one grandson.
She will be laid to rest on Saturday.