‘She was our rock’

2012-01-14 17:02

Gloria Sekwena was planning a surprise birthday party for her 19-year-old son before her untimely death this week.

The party was all she talked about before she left her husband, Joseph, in London four days into the New Year.

“I will see you after Kgosie’s birthday,” she told the father of her two children before rushing to Heathrow Airport.

She was going home – home to her sons whom she had not seen for a year.

Joseph waved to his wife (46) as she went through the security gates, not knowing it would be the last time he saw her alive.

Ten days later Joseph received a call. It was Kgosie on the line.

“He was crying and I could not understand what he was saying,” Joseph recalled this week. “My boy sounded devastated. I knew something terrible had happened but I never expected to hear that my wife was no longer with us.”

Mangoba, as Sekwena was affectionately known, was trampled to death during a stampede at the University of Johannesburg this week.

She had accompanied her son to register at the institution.

It is understood that the university’s gates were opened and throngs of prospective students who were queuing outside the facility forced their way into the premises, injuring about 20 people. She was in the front with Kgosie and did not survive the stampede.

“Nobody knew what she planned for Kgosie but I suspected it would have been something big, as she always does with the boys’ birthday parties,” Joseph said.

Still shaken by what he witnessed, Kgosie preferred not to talk about the tragic incident on Friday.

Clutching his bandaged arm he said: “I am fine and getting better by the day.”

University heads visited the Sekwena family at their home in Krugersdorp, northwest of Johannesburg, on Wednesday. UJ has offered Kgosie a bursary to study bio-technology.

The prospective student, who aspired to do medicine, said he was looking forward to studying bio-technology.

While interventions by the university and other stake-holders were welcomed by the Sekwena family, “it will not fill the space left by my wife”, said Joseph.

“Gloria could not wait for Kgosie to go to university. She was so happy that her elder son was taking the first step to becoming an independent, responsible man.

“And now she is not here to witness it,” he said.

Joseph described Gloria as a bubbly person who enjoyed life.

“She loved our children dearly and would do anything to make them happy. She was the rock of the family and I don’t know what we will do without her.”

Messages of condolences from her colleagues and friends in London have been pouring in.

A memorial service was held in her honour this week at Reading Prison in Berkshire where she worked as a nurse.

Sekwena and her husband, who is also a nurse, have been living in London for the past 11 years. She will be buried on Saturday at Sterkfontein cemetery.

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