The Rev. Sipo Mzimela, who battled apartheid before joining former South African President Nelson Mandela's cabinet and, in retirement, operated an African art shop in Decatur, died Saturday of complications from pneumonia. He was 77.
The Rev. Mzimela grew up in South Africa and was an ordained Episcopal priest. In the mid-1980s, he moved to Atlanta, founded the South Africa Education Fund and assisted at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, according to the Episcopal News Service.
He returned to his homeland in 1994 to serve as minister of correctional services and represent the Inkatha Freedom Party in the South African Parliament. He worked closely with Mandela to reform the prison system, freeing political prisoners and child inmates. He returned to Atlanta area in 2002, where he taught in the Religious Studies Department at Agnes Scott College and assisted at St. Bartholomew’s. He retired from active ministry in 2007. He authored three books, "Apartheid: South African Naziism," "Wither South Africa" and "Marching to Slavery."
In 2006, the Rev. Mzimela opened Pambili Aftican Artworks on the bottom floor of the Artisan building. The artwork is created by South African cooperatives profits were sent back in order to help the community. The store closed in late 2010.
The funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday Feb. 9, at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church at 1790 LaVista Road, Atlanta. Bishop of Atlanta Robert Wright will preside.
The Episcopal News Service said committal of his ashes will be in the parish’s memorial garden. Memorial contributions may be sent to St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 1790 LaVista Road, Atlanta, GA 30329; 50 percent will be sent to a South African ministry in the Rev. Mzimela’s honor.