Zoleka Mandela, the granddaughter of anti-apartheid heroes Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, died on Monday evening after a prolonged battle with cancer. She was 43.
Zoleka’s death fell one day before her grandmother’s birthday – The celebrated struggle stalwart would have turned 87 this year.
According to a statement released by the family, Zoleka died after being admitted to hospital on 18 September for ongoing treatment for cancer of the hip, liver, lung, pelvis, brain and spinal cord.
This was announced by family spokesperson Zwelabo Mandela on Tuesday.
“On Monday, 18 September , Zoleka Mandela was admitted to hospital for ongoing treatment for metastatic cancer to the hip, liver, lung, pelvis, brain and spinal cord.
“Recent scans revealed significant disease progression including fibrosis in the lungs as well as several emboli. Zoleka passed away on the evening of Monday, 25 September surrounded by friends and family. Our sincere gratitude to the medical team that took care of her, ” the statement read.
Mandela openly shared her cancer prognosis on social media. In May she collapsed and doctors found a tumour on her brain.
“Things are not looking good for me at all and it’s important for me to continue to be honest about my journey as I vowed I would for the betterment of the cancer community,” she said.
In August, Zoleka also expressed her despair about the disease, worried of its implications on her children.
“What do I tell my children? How do I tell them that this time around I may not get to live my life as a survivor? How do I tell them everything will be OK when it’s not? I’m dying … I don’t want to die,” she said then.
Zoleka was surrounded by friends and family at the time of her death. She leaves behind four children.