Edna Molewa. File photo: ANA

Pretoria - The family of the late Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, who died at the age of 61 in a Pretoria hospital on Saturday after a short illness, has thanked all South Africans for their messages of condolences following the untimely death of their daughter, mother, grandmother, and sister.

"Our sister passed away yesterday, 22 September 2018, following complications of legionnaires’ disease," Molewa's brother Fana Mmethi said in a statement on Sunday.

Knowing she had been ill had done little to lessen the blow. South Africa had lost a great leader, an activist, a patriot, and a revolutionary who had been "called to her maker, leaving us bereft", he said.

"It is testimony to the high regard in which she was held by so many people that messages of support and tribute continue to be received from not only South Africans, but from people across the globe.

"It is particularly difficult to come to terms with her passing, given that she was cut down in the prime of her life when she still had so much to offer to her family, her friends, her colleagues, her church, and to her community," Mmethi said.

She had left an indelible mark in the lives of the millions of people who had the privilege and honour of knowing her. Hers was a life dedicated to the service of the people, and to the betterment of the people of South Africa in particular.

"We are comforted in the knowledge that we are not alone in this, our darkest hour. Our sister was a woman of many exemplary qualities; chiefly among them was her unwavering deep and abiding faith.

"It is a faith that sustained her throughout her life, and it is that faith from which we draw sustenance as we mourn her, but also commemorate an extraordinary life lived in the footsteps of Christ and in service to her fellow man," Mmethi said.

She was a dedicated member of the African National Congress, an organisation she joined in her youth and to which she dedicated her life. She served her movement with distinction and when she was called upon by the ANC to join government she did not hesitate to heed this call.

"It is a source of enduring pride for us as the family that our sister, who rose from such humble beginnings; became first a member of parliament, then a provincial MEC, to a premier, to a minister. Such was the faith vested in her by our country’s leadership that she was called upon to serve as an acting president on numerous occasions. She was held in extremely high regard by international leaders especially in the environmental fraternity," Mmethi said.

"We as the family have always known that she was not ours alone, but belonged to all of South Africa. We as the family recall that from her earliest years she was somebody who stood firmly for justice; not content to remain a bystander to history, but taking up the cudgels on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalised. She imparted to us as her family the enduring values of humility and persistence, even in the face of adversity. But most of all she taught us the value of selflessness," Mmethi said.

African News Agency/ANA