Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma sent condolences to the Mbeki family following the death of their 98-year-old matriarch Epainette on Saturday.
“Words are not adequate to explain the sad loss of this mother of our nation,” Zuma said in a statement.
Epainette Mbeki, 98, died in East London, Eastern Cape.
She was the mother of former president Thabo Mbeki and the wife of the late African National Congress and SA Communist Party stalwart Govan Mbeki.
“We wish to express, on behalf of government and all South Africans, our deepest condolences and the nation's solidarity with the Mbeki family at this hour,” said Zuma.
“May her soul rest in eternal peace.”
The Thabo Mbeki foundation also sent its condolences.
“Gogo Epainette, a humble servant of the people, will be remembered for her selfless dedication to the upliftment on the communities she served,” chairman of the foundation's board Dr Brigalia Bam said.
“To gogo Epainette, we say thank you for serving as a shining example of what it means to be a servant leader and may we forever draw our inspiration from the teachings of so gentle a soul.”
National Freedom Party leader and newly appointed Deputy Science and Technology Minister Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi said Mbeki would be remembered as a teacher, community worker and entrepreneur who taught the people in the Eastern Cape how to work for themselves in order to be independent.
“MaMbeki as she was affectionately known will be remembered as an independent thinker, an independent struggle icon who was not afraid to speak her mind,” kaMagwaza-Msibi said.
“Her critical approach to things was a lesson that people of South Africa have to use their minds to think independently but at the same time be constructive when dealing with matters affecting human coexistence and empowerment.”
She said Epainette Mbeki was a role model for all women.