Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter, cancer, South Africa

Nelson And Winnie Mandela’s Granddaughter Zoleka Succumbs To Cancer At Age 43

Nelson and Winnie Mandela’s granddaughter, Zoleka Mandela, passed away from cancer at the age of 43.

She succumbed to the illness on Sept. 25 after being admitted to the hospital on Sept. 18. According to an Instagram post, the activist was battling aggressive bouts of metastatic cancer in the hip, liver, lung, pelvis, brain and spinal cord.

“Recent scans revealed significant disease progression including fibrosis in the lungs as well as several emboli,” the post read. “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.”

Born in April 1980 to Zindzi Mandela,  Zoleka was a healthcare and justice activist on top of being an outspoken writer.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said the young matriarch worked tirelessly to advocate for cancer prevention. In a statement, the group highlighted her work against the deadly disease. “The Nelson Mandela Foundation extends its heartfelt condolences to the Mandela family on the passing of Zoleka Mandela, tragically last night,” the Foundation said. “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.”

In her early years, Zoleka was very outspoken about other struggles, including drug addiction, depression and sexual abuse that, according to BBC, she suffered from as a child. Her work also championed safe driving, after losing her 13-year-old daughter in a car accident in 2010.

Her first bout with cancer was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32. She went into remission, but the illness returned. In 2022, she announced she was battling lung and liver cancer. On Instagram, she expressed her desire to fight and not to die. “What do I tell my children? How do I tell them that this time around I may not get to live my life as a survivor,” Zoleka wrote. “How do I tell them everything will be OK when it’s not? I’m dying… I don’t want to die.”

She is survived by four children.