Former IFP 'visionary' and husband die in house fire
Durban - The first South African woman to serve in the Cabinet of the former KwaZulu Government, Dr Lissa Joyce Themba Mthalane, died in a house fire, along with her husband Baldwin, at the weekend.
According to IFP national chairman and MPL, Blessed Gwala, the party was "shattered" at the death of the couple.
Gwala described Mthalane as one of the IFP's "visionary leaders", via a statement issued late on Sunday.
"Dr Mthalane, who is a former matron at Ngwelezane Hospital, made history as she was registered as the first woman in the history of South Africa to serve in the cabinet of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, under the leadership of Chief Minister - now IFP President Emeritus - His Excellency Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi," said Gwala.
"Her diligence and tenacity earned her the first female Health Portfolio Committee Chairperson position under the democratic dispensation post-1994."
Gwala said that according to preliminary reports, the pensioners were burned "beyond recognition" at their Ngwelezana home near Empangeni, in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday night.
The couple was involved in sugar-cane farming at the time of their deaths, and also ran a retail store at Embabe in the KwaMthethwa area.
"The IFP conveys its condolences to the family, the entire IFP family, the President Emeritus, and the IFP President, Honourable Velenkosini Hlabisa. The IFP prides itself on identifying, moulding and recognising Dr Mthalane's capabilities, and those of other women in government. This bears testimony that the IFP has always believed in the ability of visionary women leaders," said Gwala.
African News Agency/ANA