Zindzi Mandela, daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, dies at 59

Zindzi Mandela
Zindzi Mandela, daughter of Nelson Mandela, arrives for the London premiere of the movie “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” in 2013.
(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)

Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of South African anti-apartheid leaders Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has died at 59.

State television network the South African Broadcasting Corp. reported that Mandela died at a Johannesburg hospital early Monday morning.

She had been South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark since 2015.

The Mandelas’ daughter came to international prominence in 1985, when the white-minority government offered to release Nelson Mandela from prison if he denounced violence perpetrated by his movement, the Africa National Congress, against apartheid, the brutal system of racial discrimination enforced in South Africa at that time.

Zindzi Mandela read his letter rejecting the offer at a packed public meeting that was broadcast around the world.


Last year she stirred up controversy by calling for the return of white-owned land to South Africa’s dispossessed Black majority. “Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally #TheLandIsOurs,” she tweeted.

As a Times correspondent in South Africa during the final violent spasms of the apartheid regime and the jubilant election of the country’s first black president in 1994, I noticed something odd about Nelson Mandela’s speeches.

South Africa’s foreign affairs minister, Naledi Pandor, has expressed shock at Mandela’s death, describing her as a heroine.

“Zindzi will not only be remembered as a daughter of our struggle heroes, Tata Nelson and Mama Winnie Mandela, but as a struggle heroine in her own right. She served South Africa well,” said Pandor.

She is survived by her husband and four children.