Lewis, aged 80, died last week at an Atlanta, Georgia (USA), hospital after suffering from pancreatic cancer since 2019.
Ramaphosa, paying tribute to the fallen US lawmaker, commended him for his activism in South Africa’s liberation struggle against apartheid to end legalised racism and inequality in order to affirm universal human rights in the African country.
The congressman was a close supporter of South Africa’s liberation struggle and undertook several visits to South Africa, the president said, adding that Lewis had met former President Nelson Mandela shortly after his release from prison and was a guest at Mandela’s inauguration four years later.
“Congressman John Lewis, as a global icon in the fight for human rights and equality, was also a civil rights leader who dedicated his life to the attainment of equality for all people, and to the ending of the legacy of colonialism, slavery and the crime against humanity that was apartheid,” Ramaphosa said.
The South African leader noted that while Lewis fought a long and brave struggle in the country of his birth, “he maintained a global perspective in the fight against racism, lending his support to our own struggle at critical moments such as the Sharpeville Massacre (in 1960).”
“He was an inspiration to the civil rights movement in the United States and mobilised this movement to place pressure on the apartheid regime across the international community.”
According to the president, "through his work in the Black Caucus of Congress, Lewis put in place a powerful and influential centre of support for our liberation struggle.”