President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Itumeleng English

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma expressed sadness on Wednesday over the death of freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu's mother, Martha Mahlangu.

“On behalf of government and the people of South Africa, we wish to convey our heartfelt condolences on her passing and may her soul rest in peace,” Zuma said in a statement.

Mahlangu and her granddaughter attended the State of the Nation Address in Parliament in February as Zuma's special guests.

The presidency said Zuma would launch the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund on Friday.

The fund would provide financial support to deserving South African youth, especially from rural areas.

Zuma would bestow scholarship awards to deserving youth who would pursue full time studies that fall within the priority growth sectors, critical and scarce skills areas.

“I am very saddened that Mama Mahlangu did not live to see the launch of this Scholarship Fund in honour of her son but we will continue to preserve the legacy of Solomon Mahlangu and all those who laid down their lives for our freedom and democracy,” Zuma said.

Mahlangu died at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Her son, Solomon “Kalushi” Mahlangu, was hanged at the Pretoria Central Prison on April 6, 1979.

He had been charged for the murder of two white civilians in Johannesburg two years earlier.