Poet and political activist Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile has died at the age of 79.
Affectionately known as "Bra Willie", the liberation struggle stalwart with a broad smile died after fighting a short illness at Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital on Wednesday morning.
Family spokesperson, Terry Fowler, told News24 that Kgositsile had undergone surgery after suffering from circulatory problems.
Kgositsile had the prestigious order of Ikhamanga bestowed upon him by then acting President Kgalema Motlanthe in 2008.
The presidential honour is granted for achievements within, but not limited to literature, music, arts, and culture.
The celebrated poet was prominent in literature circles and could be seen at literature and arts developments events such as the Jozi Book Fair, Abantu Book Festival, and poetry sessions such as those hosted by Cape Town based InZync Poetry in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch.
We begin 2018 on a very sombre note with the passing of one of South Africa's most influential and exceptional poets, who went on to become the wRite Association's National Poet laureate & a member of @ArtsCultureSA's Living Legends Legacy Programme, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile. pic.twitter.com/ydjjl1jyD5-- Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) January 3, 2018
It is with great sadness that we have learnt of Prof. Keorapetse Kgositsile's passing. He was with us just the other day at Abantu Book Festival & his event -which was his last ever- was one of those the audience wished would never end. RIP National Poet Laureate. #NoSerenityHere pic.twitter.com/nGNCt4v3Yu-- Abantu Book Festival (@Abantu_) January 3, 2018
The national Poet Laurette is also the former husband of National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, having married her in 1978. He is also the father of American rapper, producer and former member of hip hop group Odd Future, Thebe Neruda Kgositsile who goes by the stage name Earl Sweatshirt.
Keorapetse Kgositsile has departed.
RIP pic.twitter.com/fIKkrM3B6S-- Mathanda (@MathandaNcube) January 3, 2018
Fowler told News24 that funeral arrangements would be communicated at a later stage.
"We are still in the process of planning given the wide circle of friends and colleagues that he had," said Fowler.
Kgositsile is survived by his wife, seven children and well as several grandchildren.