MANTO Tshabalala-Msimang will be remembered more for her controversy than for her political contribution to the liberation of South Africa.
Tshabalala-Msimang, 69, died yesterday afternoon at the Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre and Medi-Clinic's intensive care unit from complications of her first liver transplant in 2007.
Mantombazana Edmie Tshabalala was born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on October 9 1940.
She matriculated at the Inanda Seminary and went on to earn a BA degree from the University of Fort Hare in Eastern Cape, graduating in 1961.
In 1962, shortly after the ANC was banned, Tshabalala-Msimang was one of a group of 27 young members of the organisation ordered to go into exile by the party leadership. She remained abroad for 28 years.
She went to the Soviet Union, where she enrolled at the First Leningrad Medical Institute. She graduated from that institution with a medical degree in 1969.
Tshabalala-Msimang later moved to Tanzania, where in 1972 she completed a diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Dar es Salaam.
One legacy of her time spent in these two countries was an ability to speak fluent Russian and Swahili.
In 1980 she received a master's degree in Public Health from the University of Antwerp in Belgium.
She went on to work in health services in Tanzania and Botswana.
She returned to South Africa in 1990, and at first worked in community health organisations in KwaZulu-Natal.
She was first elected to Parliament in 1994. She served as chairperson of the National Assembly's health committee, and in 1996 was appointed deputy justice minister.
She was appointed minister of health on June 17 1999.
She was married to ANC veteran Mendi Msimang with whom she had two daughters, Zuki and Pulane.
On October 20 2007 she was admitted to the state-run Charlotte Maxeke Hospital's private Folateng ward after complaining of being unwell. She was diagnosed with severe anaemia and residual pleural effusion - a disease that affects the lungs.
Her health was, at that time, being questioned by opposition parties.
Her controversial emphasis on treating HIV-Aids with vegetables such as garlic and beetroot, rather than with antiretroviral medicines, was the subject of international criticism.
She was widely seen as following an HIV-Aids policy in line with her former boss, Thabo Mbeki, who for a time expressed public doubts about whether HIV caused Aids.