Minister of Public Service and Administration Collins Chabane was killed in a car accident early on Sunday morning, the presidency said.
“President Jacob Zuma is saddened to announce the untimely death of the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mr Collins Chabane in a car crash in the early hours of this morning,” said spokesman Mac Maharaj in a statement.
Zuma was shocked by Chabane's death.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this untimely death of an outstanding cadre of our liberation struggle and a competent, accomplished and dependable member of my Cabinet,” said Zuma.
“This is a huge loss to government and the country as a whole.”
Chabane was previously the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.
“A veteran of the liberation struggle, Mr Chabane was also a long serving member of the ANC National Executive Committee,” said Maharaj.
Chabane was born in Xikundu Village, in Limpopo on April 15, 1960.
He attended Shingwedzi High School and in 1977 at the age of 17 he joined the African National Congress.
After school he registered for a BSc at Turfloop University, but in 1980 he went into exile and was later arrested.
He spent six years on Robben Island from 1984 to 1990. He was imprisoned at the same time as Tokyo Sexwale, Kgalema Motlanthe and Mosiuoa Lekota -- all key figures in national politics.
While in prison, Chabane obtained his diploma in leadership and management from the Turfloop Graduate School of Leadership under the University of Limpopo. He also had a diploma in management from Esami in Arusha, Tanzania.
While he was on Robben Island, Chabane developed an interest in music and learnt music theory and how to play the harmonica
After his release from prison Chabane served as provincial secretary of the ANC in the then Northern Province (Limpopo) for eight years.
He was instrumental in the re-establishment of the party's structures in Limpopo, his home province.
Chabane was elected to Parliament in 1994 after the country's first democratic election and served on the constitutional affairs, defence and intelligence committees.
In 1997 Chabane was re-deployed to Limpopo where he served as public works MEC and was a member of the provincial legislature. He also served as the province's economic development , environment and tourism MEC in 2005.
At the ANC's 2007 elective conference in Polokwane Chabane was re-elected to the party's national executive committee.
In 2009, Chabane was appointed minister in the presidency responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation in President Jacob Zuma's first term of office.
After the 2014 general elections, Chabane was moved to the portfolio of public service minister.