President Cyril Ramaphosa has led tributes to the late Cabinet minister Edna Molewa with parties in Parliament describing her as a gallant fighter and servant of the people.
Ramaphosa said he was saddened by the death of Molewa, a long-serving member of the executive.
Molewa, 61, joined the Cabinet in 2009 when she was appointed Social Development Minister before moving to Environmental Affairs in 2010.
She was environmental affairs minister for the past eight years and before moving to the executive was Premier of the North West.
Ramaphosa said: “This is a devastating loss to our nation and to the global community, who owe a great gratitude to the late Minister Molewa for her championship nationally for the environmental integrity of a sustainable planet Earth that can be shared and enjoyed by all nations and all people, rich and poor.
Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise said Molewa was dedicated in her fight for sustainable development. They added that she was one of the first female chairpersons of the portfolio committees in Parliament in 1994, heading the trade and industry portfolio committee.
The presiding officers bemoaned the fact that Molewa died at a time when the world was faced with issues of environmental degradation.
The DA said Molewa led a great fight against rhino poaching.
“During her tenure as minister of Environmental Affairs, she did great work raising awareness around the scourge of rhino poaching.
“On this day, World Rhino Day, we honour her commitment to this noble cause,” said DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.
The IFP said Molewa would be remembered for her political role in the country and fight against rhino poaching.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said he worked with Molewa when they were both MECs for Agriculture in their respective provinces.“Molewa will be remembered as a seminal political figure, not only in our current democratic dispensation but for the critical role she played in liberation politics. South Africa owes her a great debt of gratitude.
“In her portfolio as Minister of Environmental Affairs, she will be remembered for working tirelessly on bringing an end to rhino poaching in South Africa,” said Singh.
The SACP described Molewa as a hard-working minister and long-serving member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
It called on South Africans to unite and fight against environmental degradation in the country.