Masekela’s family, in a statement said Masekela passed away in Witbank (a suburb of Johannesburg) on Tuesday.
Confirming his passing, the family statement said: “After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed away peacefully in Johannesburg surrounded by his family.”
Zuma described the passing of Masekela, aged 78, after a long struggle with the disease as “sad”, according to the presidency on Tuesday.
“The nation mourns one of its most recognisable signature talents in the person of ‘Bro’ Hugh Masekela. It is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large,” the president declared.
According to Zuma, “His (Masekela’s) contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten. We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and peers in the arts and culture fraternity at large. May his soul rest in peace.”
Masekela was one of the pioneers of jazz music in South Africa, whose talent was recognised and honoured internationally over many years.
Zuma said the late musician kept the torch of freedom alive globally by fighting apartheid through his music and mobilising international support for the struggle for liberation and raising awareness of the evils of apartheid.
In 2010, Zuma bestowed the National Order of Ikhamanga in Gold, the country’s highest honour, upon Masekela for his exceptional contribution to music and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course, the family said.