An emotional farewell for Mary Twala: Somizi thanks South Africans for 'really loving' his mother

Somizi poses with his mother, veteran actor, Mary Twala.
Somizi poses with his mother, veteran actor, Mary Twala.
Photo: Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images
  • The funeral service of Mary Twala took place in Soweto on Thursday. While it was not open to the public, the service was streamed across multiple platforms online.
  • Somizi was joined on stage by husband Mohale as he bid farewell to his mother, remembering her as "very generous", "very cheeky" and "very optimistic".
  • Gospel singer Rebecca Malope performed at the small gathering, and industry friends like Connie Chiume and Jerry Mofokeng paid tribute to Mary in a video compilation shared at the service.


The funeral service of veteran actor Mary Twala was held at a venue in Soweto on Thursday. Following regulations set out by the government, the service was open to only 50 people.

Mourners wore masks as they gathered to bid Mary farewell. Inside the hall, chairs were spaced meters apart from one another, keeping in line with social distancing rules. 

The funeral service was streamed across multiple platforms, including YouTube and Twitter. 

"To Somizi thank you for being the loving, caring son. You looked after your mother till the end. We hurt with you, and we will always be there for you and love you unconditionally," Mary's younger sister, Zanele, encouraged Somizi when she spoke. 

With husband Mohale by his side, Somizi admitted that he "always dreaded" the day he would have to say goodbye to his mother. 

"And I think that's everyone's nightmare. Every child's nightmare," he added. 

The presenter spoke about how he had always thought his mother would have an understated funeral, but before her death, Mary had asked for "a lot of flowers".

"And today, she's in the most beautiful coffin and the most beautiful decoration. But also, it's because she asked for it. She said she wants a lot of flowers and she said it, funny enough, on Saturday. Before she passed on, she told the doctor that she wants a lot of flowers and she wants to be dressed in the same dress she wore at the wedding. At our wedding. And this is just for her," he said. 

Somizi went on to remember his mother as "very generous", "very cheeky" and "very optimistic". 

"If I could achieve a quarter of what my mother had achieved, I would have made it."

The star also thanked South Africans for loving his mother:

"I'm not sad because my mother is gone. I'm just sad because my umbilical cord has been cut completely. But I am so at peace with what my mother has achieved. She's seen me walking down the aisle, she's seen her granddaughter, she's seen her sisters, her family. She loved her family, her family loved her. I would like to thank South Africa as well for really loving my mother."

Somizi's daughter, Bahumi, struggled through her tears as took to the stage next to read the obituary. 

She remembered her grandmother as a "performance phenomenon. A preeminent rare talent globally with a beautiful and vigorous soul that occupied the room."

Messages from industry friends who could not attend the funeral were shared in a video. Among those who spoke were Connie Chiume, Rapulana Seiphemo and Jerry Mofokeng.

Remembering Mary's work, Jerry Mofokeng recalled when he first saw her in the production Lefa in the 70s, saying that he was around 13 or 14 at the time. "And then in the 90s I reconstructed that play and then saw her in last year's film 50 years later. That's what distinguishes artists. You see, stars expire, artists live forever. May her soul rest in peace."

Famed SA gospel singer Dr Rebecca Malope performed at the service. The singer's powerful voice echoed in the background as Mary's coffin was opened for a final farewell before leaving the hall. 

Somizi broke down as he looked into his mother's open coffin, leaning on husband Mohale. 

The service, kept short as part of level three lockdown guidelines, ended as the coffin was taken out of the hall and Mary was led to her final resting place. 

WATCH THE FUNERAL SERVICE HERE: