"I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Minister Edna Molewa as well as to her colleagues in Cabinet and across all spheres of government who have had the privilege to work alongside an extraordinary leader of our people.
"This is a devastating loss to our nation and to the global community who owes a great debt of gratitude to the late Minister Molewa for her championship nationally and globally for the environmental integrity of a sustainable planet earth that can be shared and enjoyed by all nations and all people, rich and poor.
“Minister Molewa has distinguished herself in many capacities and causes from her contribution to our liberation to fighting for equality of women in our society. We shall miss her greatly," President Cyril Ramaphosa said in statement.
Ruling African National Congress party spokesperson Pule Mabe said Molewa’s death has left the party and country "poorer given her role in advancing the country’s transformation agenda."
"She has been and will always remain a symbol of rare social and political activist who rose in the ranks of the democratic since her involvement in the trade unions before joining the North West Provincial government as a regional minister in various departments before being a premier of the province," Mabe said.
Before being appointed to her final post in 2010, Molewa was the minister of Social Development and the first female premier of the North West Province.
Ramaphosa has declared a period of mourning with immediate effect and ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast at all flag stations countrywide and at South African diplomatic missions abroad.