Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- History was made Thursday when a woman ruled South Africa - albeit for just a few hours.
Housing Minister Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele was sworn in by the Constitutional Court as acting president because both President Thabo Mbeki and his deputy Jacob Zuma were out of the country on official state business.
Zuma spent two days in Gabon, where he was discussing the Burundi peace process with other African leaders while Mbeki was in Lesotho for an official one-day visit.
Thembi-Mahanyele's duties included addressing mourners at the memorial service for 43 soccer fans who died in a stampede at Ellis Park last week.
She appealed to them not seek to apportion blame or settle scores in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The South African government has frequently stressed that it is committed to empowering both rural and urban women.
Mbeki recently said South Africa has carved a structured place in society for women to claim justice and break out of what has been a form of permanent slavery to men.