Tributes have continued for businesswoman and Motheo Construction founder Dr Thandi Ndlovu, who died in hospital on Saturday following a head-on car crash. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg - Tributes continued on Sunday for businesswoman and Motheo Construction founder Dr Thandi Ndlovu, who died in hospital on Saturday following a head-on car crash in the North West earlier in the day. 

Acting President David Mabuza, on behalf of government and the people of South Africa, conveyed his deepest condolences on Ndlovu's death.

"Dr Ndlovu ran the fulcrum of the struggle for the liberation of South Africa, sacrificing her education to join the African National Congress and its military wing Umkhonto weSizwe at an early age. She later became a senior political commissar responsible for literacy and education and a military commander while exiled," Mabuza said in a statement issued by the presidency.

Upon her return from exile, she ran a private medical practice and delivered medical services to a population of 200,000 people in informal settlements, before she established Motheo Construction – one of South Africa’s first  leading black female-owned construction companies and leading provider of social housing in the country, the statement said. 

Ndlovu received various awards in her work and continued to be a leading example to those who came after her, both in academic pursuit and as a leading businesswoman. She led an impeccable life as a political activist and a champion for women empowerment. Her life symbolised a struggle of rising against any odds, which she cemented in business leadership as well as taking on a human challenge of summiting the highest peak in Africa – Mount Kilimanjaro, it said.

“It is indeed a sad time in our nation to lose such a phenomenal woman and leader of the people. Dr Ndlovu has been at the forefront of almost all our women empowerment initiatives, wherein she pioneered the black economic empowerment and was foremost in the peace and reconstruction efforts of our country and continent. She played a key role in promoting dialogue for sustainable peace and development in the Great Lakes region. We wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Ndlovu family - for their loss is our loss too. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” Mabuza said.

Gauteng premier David Makhura, on behalf of the Gauteng and North West government, said Ndlovu had been "one of the brightest stars that illuminated our country’s path to freedom".

"South Africa has lost a compassionate patriot and highly impactful leader whose work positively influenced many sectors of society,” Makhura said.

Makhura called on professionals and business leaders to emulate the exemplary life of service of Ndlovu by doing "impactful transformative work" that empowered women and youth to take their destiny into their own hands.

He conveyed heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Ndlovu and to the directors and staff of Motheo Construction Group.

In another statement, the South African Housing and Infrastructure Fund (SAHIF) said it had learned with sadness of the passing of Ndlovu.

SAHIF CEO Rali Mampeule said this was a sad day for the built environment industry in general and the construction industry in particular. "The construction industry has lost a heroine, a dedicated businesswoman, and a selfless leader. Dr Thandi paved a way for a lot of women in the industry and she was on a mission to unlock more opportunities for others. She was one of the shining stars in the construction industry, thanks to her 20 years experience in the sector,” Mampeule said.

Ndlovu, a medical doctor by profession, launched Motheo Construction in 1999; a company that was well respected within the sector. The company acquired a grade 9 certificate level from the Construction Industry Development Board.

“We’d like to send our heartfelt condolences to the Ndlovu family and friends. The news of Dr Thandi’s passing came as a shock, especially this month (women’s month) which we’ve dedicated to women in construction. May her soul rest in peace,” Mampeule said.

Earlier, the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWA) said it mourned the "shocking and tragic loss of our colleague, our friend, our sister, our mentor, a daughter, a partner, a trailblazer, a vibrant and fun spirit, and a formidable businesswoman".

Ndlovu was a true inspiration to many who had the privilege to know and work with her. A fearless business leader, social activist, and a champion for the empowerment of women, among others, the BWA said in a statement.

Ndlovu made a huge contribution to her community and the country. "Her passing is a great loss to the BWA family. Not only was she a former member of the board of the organisation, a past winner of the Businesswoman of the Year Awards, she was a constant source of guidance, mentorship, and support to the organisation."

The BWA conveyed heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, and the business community on her passing. "May the deep sense of loss from her sudden departure become a light that will heal and inspire many. And may her soul rest in peace," the BWA said.

The African National Congress said it "mourns the passing away of its cadre and outstanding  businesswoman Thandi Ndlovu who met her tragic untimely death" on Saturday.

Ndlovu was "not only a freedom fighter. She was also a fervent feminist who believed in women and empowered many", the ANC said in a statement. 

Ndlovu had risen to be a household name in the South African business fraternity, impacting on the lives of the less fortunate through her business initiatives. 

"Her life achievements and commitment to change will serve as a constant reminder of her selfless contribution worth celebrating. To her family, we say their loss is our loss. To them we convey heartfelt condolences as they try to grapple with the tragic loss," the ANC said.

African News Agency/ANA