'I'm sorry you died feeling betrayed' - friend honours HIV/Aids activist Mabele

2017-07-19 22:06
The memorial service of Aids activist Prudence Mabele at Wits University’s Great Hall on July 16 in Braamfontein. (Gallo Images)

The memorial service of Aids activist Prudence Mabele at Wits University’s Great Hall on July 16 in Braamfontein. (Gallo Images)

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'Fearless' Prudence Mabele laid to rest

2017-07-19 13:33

HIV/Aids activist and Positive Women’s Network’s Prudence Mabele was remembered and honoured at her funeral service on Wednesday. WATCH

Johannesburg – A friend of respected HIV/Aids activist Prudence Mabele recalled how she stood by her bedside and watched her take her last breath.

"One thing that I can tell you is that Prudence Mabele did not die a lonely death," Dr Miranda Goma said during her funeral service at the Rhema Bible Church on Wednesday morning.

Mabele received much criticism after becoming one of the first black South Africans to tell the world she was HIV positive in 1992.

She died of pneumonia on July 10. Goma said Mabele first fell seriously ill in November 2016. She was admitted to a Rosebank hospital for three weeks and later discharged, at her insistence.

Between December and beginning of January, she noticed her CD4 count had dropped and she had TB on her lungs. Goma said two weeks later Mabele’s feet began to swell.

She had been vomiting a lot. She was re-admitted to hospital. Within a week she had recovered enough to be discharged. About three weeks before her death she went to Sweden.

When she returned, she was again admitted to hospital. She deteriorated suddenly, both her lungs collapsed and she was put on life support.

Also read: HIV/Aids activist Prudence 'fought a struggle to be human' - Ramaphosa

"I drove to the hospital and she was already gasping on the machine and on maximum support. I understood that she was not going to make it.

"I stayed with Prudence up until her last moment. At 03:45, she gave in and I then called the family and told them that she is no more."

 A carefree spirit

At her funeral service, she was described as a carefree spirit, a fighter, a go-getter and a loving person.

Chairperson of the Positive Women’s Network, Susan Nkomo, promised to keep Mabele’s flame alive. She said the organisation had been her life.

Mabele’s friend Mark Heywood described her as a warrior-woman.

"Your death on Monday the 10th of July left me numb, left me feel neglectful and wanting. I had suddenly lost someone that I loved.

"Recently, I found a picture of you marching demanding the resignation of Jacob Zuma, a president who is not worthy to be president of this country.

"Two years ago, you wrote to me to complain about the growing failing of our movement. I am sorry that you died still feeling betrayed."

He said Mabele was the third woman to die of an HIV/Aids-related disease in the last two weeks. He pledged to continue fighting for women living with HIV/Aids and against violence directed at women.

"For you, we will never steal, manipulate, deceive, or lie. Never take advantage of Aids or TB or any other cause of ill health for our own benefits."

Activists would call on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and MPs to vote President Jacob Zuma out of office on August 8, Heywood said. Another close friend, Bev Ditsie, said Mabele was a woman of truth.

"There is something liberating about being seen as being mad because in her madness she got away and did what she needed to do."

Ditsie said Mabele had to fight for her life from the moment she found out she was HIV positive.

"Unfortunately, while she was lying on a hospital bed. She was being backstabbed by her own organisation. There is no misunderstanding about the pain she went through."

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi introduced Ramaphosa, the guest speaker. Several Treatment Action Campaign activists stood up and shouted "Remember Marikana!" as they headed for the door. Ramaphosa went on to deliver his address. Mabele was laid to rest at Westpark Cemetery.

Read more on:    aids  |  hiv

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