|Ambassador to Denmark from|
2015 – 2020
(until her death)
First Lady of South Africa
Serving with Zenani Mandela-Dlamini
|Succeeded by||Graca Machel|
23 December 1960
Soweto, Union of South Africa
|Died||13 July 2020 (aged 59)|
Johannesburg, South Africa
|Cause of death||COVID-19|
|Resting place||Fourways Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Children||4, including Zoleka|
|Relatives||Zenani Mandela-Dlamini (sister)|
Thembekile Mandela (half-brother)
Makgatho Mandela (half-brother)
Makaziwe Mandela (half-sister)
|Alma mater||University of Cape Town|
Zindziswa Mandela (23 December 1960 – 13 July 2020), also known as Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane, was a South African diplomat and poet, and the daughter of anti-apartheid activists and politicians Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Zindzi was the youngest and third of Nelson Mandela's three daughters, including sister Zenani Mandela.
She had served as her country's ambassador to Denmark, and was due to take up a post as ambassador to Liberia. She served as a stand-in First Lady of South Africa from 1996[dubious ] to 1998.
Zindzi Mandela was born on 23 December 1960 in Soweto, in what was then the Union of South Africa to Nelson and Winnie Mandela. The year of her birth was also the year that the African National Congress (ANC) launched its armed wing. Her parents were wanted by the government. By the time her father was sent to prison, Zindzi was 18 months old. During her youth Zindzi was often left in the care of her older sister Zenani Mandela when her mother was sent to prison for months at a time.
In 1977 when her mother was banished to the Orange Free State Zindzi went to live with her there. Zindzi was not able to complete her education until she was sent to Swaziland. Eventually, her mother was allowed to move back to Soweto. Zindzi's father was offered a conditional release in 1985 by the then-State President, P. W. Botha. Her father's reply could not be delivered by either one of her parents. Consequently, Zindzi was chosen to read his refusal at a public meeting on 10 February 1985.
Her poetry was published in 1978 in the book Black as I Am, with photographs by Peter Magubane, and has also appeared in publications including Somehow We Survive: An Anthology of South African Writing, edited by Sterling Plumpp, and Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby. Zindzi studied law at the University of Cape Town, where she earned a BA in 1985.
Zindzi was appointed South Africa's ambassador to Denmark in 2014. She first arrived in Denmark in June 2015. In June 2019, while Ambassador to Denmark, Mandela's Twitter account sent a series of increasingly strongly worded tweets, where she discussed "trembling white cowards who are the thieving rapist descendants of Van Riebeck [sic]", and "uninvited visitors who don't want to leave" that caused significant controversy. Mandela-Hlongwane had previously that month expressed her "deep, pure unconditional love and respect" for "CIC" (leader) of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema.
While being investigated by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for breaching their social media policy, Mandela remained defiant, tweeting that "I am not accountable to any white man or woman for my personal views. No missus or baas here. Get over yourselves #OurLand". She was ordered by foreign minister Naledi Pandor to "conduct herself as a diplomat" and to adhere to the department's social media policy, and concern about her views was expressed by former president Thabo Mbeki, and her views were described as hate speech by ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang, while her opinions drew support from the EFF and the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala. Her tweets came close to the end of her four-year term as ambassador to Denmark.
At the time of her death in Johannesburg, she was designated to take up a post as ambassador to Liberia, a posting described by family members as a "punishment" for her controversial Tweets the previous year.
Personal life and death
Zindzi was married twice and had four children: Zoleka Mandela (1980), Zondwa Mandela (1985), Bambatha Mandela (1989) and Zwelabo Mandela (1992). Her first husband was Zwelibanzi Hlongwane. She married her second husband, Molapo Motlhajwa, who was a member of the South African National Defence Force, in March 2013.
Mandela-Hlongwane was said to have agreed to arrange a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to coincide with her father's birthday in 2011. The match did not take place and the boxing promoter Duane Moody sued successfully for a US court to order that she pay US$4.7m, plus costs, in damages to Moody. Mandela-Hlongwane was expected to appeal.
Zindzi died on 13 July 2020 at a hospital in Johannesburg at the age of 59. It was revealed that she had tested positive for COVID-19 on the day of her death. However, the virus has not been said to be the cause of her death as her family awaited an autopsy report. She was buried next to her mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at Fourways Memorial Park on 17 July, a day before the 102nd birthday of her late father, Nelson Mandela.
- In the 2009 BBC telefilm Mrs Mandela, Zindzi was portrayed by Refilwe Pitsoe.
- Bonnie Henna portrayed Zindzi in the film Invictus (2009).
- Xoliswa Sithole portrayed Zindzi in the TV film Mandela (1987).
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