Environmental Affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane whose husband Serge died on Thursday morning after a long illness. Picture: Siphelele Dludla/ANA

Johannesburg - Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane's husband Serge Mokonyane was a pillar of strength to their children and his wife, who spent most of her time fighting for the liberation of South Africa, the governing African National Congress said on Thursday.

The ruling party statement followed confirmation by the environment ministry that Mr Mokonyane died in a Johannesburg hospital on Thursday morning after a long illness.

"He was hospitalised last month and sadly passed on this morning," the ministry said.

The ANC described his death as a loss to all those who had belonged to the anti-apartheid movement.

"The ANC is saddened by the news of the passing on of this activist," it said.

"We can imagine the pain the Mokanyane family is going through after losing a father and a supportive husband. This is a sad loss to the entire mass democratic movement. Ntate Mokonyane was a brother, father and comrade to many people. The ANC urges the South Africans to pray for the Mokonyane family during this difficult time. May the soul of Ntate Mokonyane rest in peace and may the Lord comfort the entire family during this trying time."

The ministry said funeral plans would be communicated at a later date.

African News Agency (ANA)