The Nelson Mandela Foundation described Zoleka as "a tireless activist for healthcare and justice" after her death on Monday
Zoleka Mandela, the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, died of cancer on Monday. She was 43.
Zoleka’s family confirmed the news of her death on Instagram in a statement shared by the family spokesperson, Zwelabo Mandela.
“On Monday, September 18th, Zoleka Mandel was admitted into hospital for ongoing treatment for metastatic cancer to the hip, liver, lung, pelvis, brain and spinal cord,” the statement said. “Recent scans revealed significant disease progression including fibrosis in the lungs as well as several emboli.”
The statement continued, “Zoleka passed away on the evening of Monday, September 25th surrounded by friends and family. Our sincerest gratitude to the medical team that took care of her.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation also released a statement in the wake of the news, describing her as “a tireless activist for healthcare and justice.”
“The Nelson Mandela Foundation extends its heartfelt condolences to the Mandela family on the passing of Zoleka Mandela, tragically last night. We mourn the loss of a beloved grandchild of Mum Winnie and Madiba and a friend of the Foundation.”
The statement continued, “Her work in raising awareness about cancer prevention and her unwavering commitment to breaking down the stigma surrounding the disease will continue to inspire us all.”
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this most difficult time. Hamba kahle Zoleka, we will remember you.”
Related: Nelson Mandela: His Life in Pictures
Zoleka was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 32 and was in remission when the cancer resurged last year. She had been receiving treatment for metastatic cancer in her spinal cord, liver, hip, lung and ribs, according to her Instagram, where she documented her treatment journey.
She developed the hashtag #TerminallyFree and started a series where she aimed to remind followers “that within us all lies a power to fight for continuance, albeit terminal cancer.” She launched a YouTube series under the same name.
Zoleka was an outspoken advocate for issues beyond cancer as well. After losing her 13-year-old daughter in a car accident in 2010, she became an advocate for road safety, according to BBC, and was open about her past struggles with depression and her history of sexual abuse as a child.
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Zoleka is the granddaughter of Nelson’s second wife, Winnie Mandela. She was 10 years old when he was released from prison following his 27-year detention in 1990.
The anti-Apartheid South African leader died in 2013.
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