Government officials have paid tribute to African National Congress (ANC) veteran Zola Skweyiya who died in hospital on Wednesday following a short illness. He was 75.
Speaking to Bongani Bingwa, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said when the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) was set up, Skweyiya appointed him as one of the first team members to run the agency.
It is a deep blow for the poor, he was a caring person. Actually if there is somebody who laid the foundation for all government policies that cares for the poor, especially the payments of social grants, in a dignified way and also the care for the elderly and children that are vulnerable, you put Zola Skweyiwa. This pain is just too deep.— Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe also expressed his condolences to the Skweyiya family.
Skweyiya was one of the first combatants of Mkhonto We Sizwe and was part of the first generation of the Luthuli detachment in the early 1960's.
Radebe described him as well as a 'consummate intellectual' who had studied international law and obtained a doctorate in Germany.
He played a pivotal role as the head of The Legal and Constitutional Department of the ANC as part of that big constitution making process that was led by the late president Oliver Tambo.— Jeff Radebe, Minister of Energy
The Skweyiya Family also released a statement which said: "The family of Ambassador Dr Zola Skweyiya is deeply saddened by the departure of their father, grandfather and husband to Ambassador Thuthukile Skweyiya around 7 this morning."
The statement continued and said: "The family regrets the unfortunate leak of his death to the media before his family members and his organisation the ANC were informed."
"We are aware that many ANC leaders and members, including the President of the ANC Cde Cyril Ramaphosa, former President Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe had indicated that they will be paying him a visit today. Unfortunately his departure has shocked all of us," the statement continued.
"We are currently doing our best to contact the rest of the family members that were not officially informed. We will communicate further information in the course of the week."
Listen below to the full interview: