President salutes late US Congressman John Lewis

Media Statement

20 July 2020

President salutes late US Congressman John Lewis

President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to the late United States Congressman John Lewis for uniting two continents in the struggle to end racist inequality and affirm universal human rights.

The President has extended his condolences to Congressman Lewis’s family, friends, fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen, and his many partners and supporters globally.

Congressman Lewis, who served as the Representative for the 5th congressional district of the State of Georgia, passed away last week at the age of 80, following an extended illness.

The Congressman was a close supporter of South Africa’s liberation struggle and undertook several visits to South Africa.

He met Nelson Mandela shortly after Madiba’s release from prison and was a guest at President Mandela’s Inauguration.

Congressman Lewis also had several engagements with President Mandela during the President’s visits to the United States.

President Ramaphosa said:

“Congressman John Lewis was a global icon of the fight for human rights and equality.

“He was 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.

“While he fought a long and brave struggle in the country of his birth, he maintained a global perspective on the fight against racism and lent his support to our own struggle at critical moments such as the Sharpeville Massacre.

“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. Through his work in the Black Caucus of Congress he put in place a powerful and influential centre of support for our liberation struggle.

“He was a close and trusted advisor and ally to Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama and many other leaders who drew on his formidable intellect, resilience and immovable insistence on justice.

“May his soul rest in peace.”

Media enquiries: Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to the President –


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