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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Terminally Free: How Zoleka Mandela planned for her death

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The Mandela family on Tuesday confirmed the death of Zoleka Mandela.


The granddaughter of the late former President Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died on Monday evening following a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 43 year old.




Months ago, Mandela opened up about her cancer struggle, detailing how she was planning for the eventuality of her death.


This after she announced her cancer returned in August 2022 after being diagnosed with bone metastasis.


It was her third battle with cancer. She previously beat breast cancer.


In April this year, she opened up about her plans in an interview with Phemelo Motene on the Point of View show on Kaya 959.


“I think it probably will sound strange, but I think I’m blessed enough or fortunate enough to be in a position where I’m in my planning stages.

“I’m having conversations with my loved ones and my lawyer and my therapist and my siblings about what happens in the days leading to my passing; what happens after I pass away.”


She revealed a personal care plan had been formulated about what would happen to her book When Hope Whispers; what will happen to her children; the messaging that would be relayed to the media or people outside of the family, and what will happen to memorabilia, heirlooms and more.


She said at the time:


“I’m learning to be okay with living despite an expected death, you know. I’m also just continuously evaluating various facets of my life, like my relationships, my priorities, my goals and things like that. I think that’s empowering for me too because, again, I’ve been put in a place where I’m able to actually have a say in the things that I want to happen, especially with all my children.”


In March, Zoleka launched her Terminally Free YouTube series, where she opened up about her first cancer diagnosis, and her current journey.



Her last Instagram entry, on 17 September 2023, a week before her passing, beamed with her typical positivity, despite the severity of the diagnosis:


I had a CT Scan administered a few weeks back, which have shown that I have blood clots as well as Fibrosis in my lung. This explains the chest pains I had been feeling. My Medical Oncologist has recommended blood thinners and Oral Chemo. On the upside, I’m incredibly grateful that I am still treatable! I’m off to bed … Good night … Good morning, beloved hearts! Love, the Oros Lady (I feel like my face just gets more rotund and puffy by the day!) Peace. Passion. Positivity.



Liesl Smit
Liesl Smit
Liesl is the Smile 90.4FM News Manager. She has been at Smile since 2016, with nearly 20 years experience in the radio industry, including reading news, field reporting and producing. In 2008 she won the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award, Western Cape region. liesl@smile904.fm

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