Pretoria - President Kgalema Motlanthe has expressed condolences to the family and friends of Minister of Communications Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri who passed away on Monday night.
The minister, who was 71, died at a Pretoria hospital after falling ill and being admitted three weeks ago.
"On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa and, indeed on my own behalf, I express heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri," President Motlanthe said.
He described her as an outstanding leader and servant of the people of South Africa.
"In her various leadership capacities and responsibilities, she has served the country with distinction, honour and selflessness.
"With her incisive intellect she has made an invaluable contribution to the development of policy in various fields including Information and Communication Technology," he said in a statement.
Speaking to BuaNews, departmental spokesperson Joe Makhofela said her sudden death had come as a shock to staff at the department. "This has left them in dark cloud," he said.
More details around her death would be made known later in the day, he said. No funeral arrangements have been made thus far.
Dr Matsepe-Casaburri held the position of minister since 1999 and played a leading role in the establishment of the Board of the Women's Development Foundation.
Due to her diligent and determination in the telecommunication industry in Africa, Minister Matsepe-Casaburri was elected as the Chairperson of Ministerial Oversight Committee of African Telecommunications Ministers.
She lived in exile for 25 years until she returned in 1990. She has been active in policy development in the fields of gender, education, economic development and local government.