Johannesburg - The Smile Foundation, co-founded by former president Nelson Mandela, will continue to care for South Africa's children, it said in a tribute to the struggle icon.
The foundation provides plastic and reconstructive surgery for children living with facial anomalies.
“The Smile Foundation family pledge to continue to bring smiles to the faces of children, though inside, our hearts are filled with tears,” the foundation's co-founder Marc Lubner said in a statement.
“We mourn the passing of our co-founder and patron, Madiba, father to the millions of children of our nation.
“His love of life, particularly his love of children will be perpetuated in the ongoing efforts of [the foundation].”
Lubner said the idea to start the foundation came 13 years ago when Mandela asked him to help a young girl who had a rare medical condition which caused facial nerve paralysis.
The non-profit organisation works with the staff of the country's academic hospitals to help hundreds of children annually, Lubner said.
“We feel the loss of his passing but we remember with joy the many moments shared at the hospital bedsides of so many children, who because of their Madiba were able to undergo life-changing surgery.” - Sapa