President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent his condolences to the people and government of Angola following the death of former president José Eduardo dos Santos in Spain, the presidency said on Saturday.
Dos Santos died on Friday at the age of 79 after a long illness in the European country where he retired after ruling Angola for 38 years.
The presidency said dos Santos’ humble beginnings, his militancy, his exile from home and his education in the former Soviet Union resonated profoundly with the journey many South Africans in their own liberation movement experienced.
It recalled how dos Santos and the MPLA (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola) had extended their solidarity, material, and military support to South Africa's own liberation movement.
“This support provoked the apartheid regime and its allies to violate the sovereign Republic of Angola by turning Angola into a battleground for preserving the apartheid regime,” the presidency said in a statement.
Through the sacrifices of the Angolan people and the unwavering leadership of dos Santos, freedom finally dawned in a democratic South Africa, it added.
“Today our two nations are united in mourning as we were in struggle. And South Africa will continue to honour the contribution president dos Santos made to building the Republic of Angola and bringing peace to our region,” he said.