*Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has died at age 59.
Zindzi reportedly died at a Johannesburg hospital early Monday morning, but her cause of death has not yet been revealed, per PEOPLE.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation issued a statement on her passing, writing, “We have been shocked to wake to the news of the untimely passing of Zindziswa Mandela … Zindzi was someone we had come to know well and to love. She was our friend,” they wrote, adding that their “thoughts are with her family and friends.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was “deeply saddened” by Zindzi’s death.
“I offer my deep condolences to the Mandela family as we mourn the passing of a fearless political activist who was a leader in her own right,” Ramaphosa said in a statement. “Our sadness is compounded by this loss being visited upon us just days before the world marks the birthday of the great Nelson Mandela.”
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— NelsonMandela (@NelsonMandela) July 13, 2020
The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation also released a statement following Zindzi’s death, noting that she was “regarded by many as a child of the nation.”
They also noted that her death means “South Africa loses an important generational link connecting our divided history to the promise of better, more inclusive, tomorrows.”
Zindzi grew up while her famous father was incarcerated by the apartheid regime for 27 years.
As noted by the Associated Press, she came to international fame in the mid-1980s when she read a letter from Mandela rejecting the government’s offer to release him if he denounced the violence of his anti-apartheid movement.
In 1978, Zindzi’s poetry appeared in the book “Black as I Am” as well as the publications “Somehow We Survive: An Anthology of South African Writing” and “Daughters of Africa.”
Since 2015, Zindzi, who studied law at the University of Cape Town, served as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark.
Nelson Mandela died in December 2013 at the age of 95.
His wife Winnie died in April 2018 at age 81.