Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has expressed sadness at the sudden passing of Welfare Services Deputy Director-General Conny Nxumalo.
"The DSD family learnt with great sadness the sudden passing of 'South Africa's Chief Social Worker' who lived the life of service to the best of her abilities until her last breath. A mentor who was always ready to provide advice on the work of the department, and very knowledgeable on any issue related to welfare matters in particular," said Minister Zulu on Sunday.
The Deputy Director-General (DDG) passed away on Saturday morning.
"She made particularly valuable contribution in championing innovative programmes to protect children and was one of the architects of the department's national action plan to combat violence against women and children as well as the anti-substance abuse interventions.
"With the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa, Nxumalo was in the forefront of our national response, representing the department and the sector as a whole at the NATJOINT," said Minister Zulu.
Minister Zulu said Nxumalo's passing has robbed South Africa of a leader who served with distinction.
"I offer my deepest condolences to her family and friends as we mourn her untimely passing and celebrate a remarkable life dedicated to bettering the lives of the most vulnerable in our country," she said.
Nxumalo was admitted to hospital due to COVID-19 related complications.
"We had hoped that she will recover and be with her family and with time return to work as she was in the frontline of our national efforts so that many in our country can benefit from her work. So much of our work in protecting children, older persons and persons with disabilities are the result of her extraordinary vision and leadership."
The DDG was a qualified social worker with a Master's degree in Public and Development Management with the University of the Witwatersrand.
She first worked in different settings as a social worker in the provincial spheres and later joined the National Department of Social Development in 2003, as a Director for Substance Abuse focusing on policy development, legislation, program monitoring and implementation in the area of substance abuse.
"As we mourn and celebrate the life of this remarkable woman, we urge all members of the DSD family to remain vigilant in the face of the persistent threat that COVID-19 poses.
"Even as the lockdown regulations have been eased, we also urge all South Africans to continue exercise caution by practicing social distancing, washing their hands, wearing a mask and avoiding crowded places," Minister Zulu said.