Nelson Mandela Foundation

It was with deep sadness that we at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory heard of the untimely passing away today of Zwelakhe Sisulu.

The son of one of South Africa’s pre-eminent anti-apartheid families, Zwelakhe was himself a seasoned human rights activist. As a journalist he was held for long periods in police detention without trial and he was banned by the apartheid regime.

After his banning in 1981 Jon Qwelane wrote in the Sowetan newspaper that it “was a continuation of government harassment of a family already having to contend living without a head of the household.” He called Zwelakhe “easily the most formidable strategist to emerge in recent years.”

His father, Walter Sisulu, a close friend of Nelson Mandela, spent 26 years in jail with him after they were both sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. His mother, Albertina Sisulu, was herself detained and banned several times. At one point every member of the Sisulu family was in jail at the same time. Walter Sisulu passed away in 2003 and Albertina in 2011.

“We mourn the loss of a great son of this country and a hero of the struggle for freedom,” said Achmat Dangor, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

On behalf of our Founder, the Chairperson of our Board, Trustees and staff, we offer our deepest condolences to his family.

Hamba kahle Zwelakhe Sisulu