2017 July 19: “Why is there no state funeral for Prudence?”

Text by Yaya Mavundla
Photos by Zanele Muholi

Struggle songs & ritual performances at an activist funeral. Prudence Mabele shocked many by her passing on the 10th of July just before celebrating her 46th birthday on the 21 July 2017.  Her funeral service held at Rhema Bible Church in Randburg was attended by many.  Politicians and public figures such as deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa spoke at the funeral.

Cyril Ramaphosa_4173Ramaphosa was distracted by a group of activists who felt the government have constantly neglected the need to provide proper healthcare for average South Africans at public facilities. A group of activists walked out on Ramaphosa, just before the exit they shouted, “Remember Marikana”. Regardless of the protest, deputy president carried on with his speech he had prepared.



Programme directors for the day was Dr Ramathesele & Ms. Rosie Motene who handled the event very well, with dignity and pride, whom also knew Prudence on a personal level. A lot was said and happened during the proceedings. Highlight of the entire day was seeing Christians being able to work with traditional healers to send off their loved one with respect by doing what she believed in and who she really was. Prudence Mabele was a traditional healer and it was only right to have her friends who are traditional healers to perform a ritual performance during the church service and at her burial service at the cemeteries.

One of the speakers who spoke at the service was Bev Ditsie who spoke very fond of her dear friend.  She was very honest about how Prudence Mabele lived and experienced in her 46 years of existence. “Prudence lived fearlessly, she loved dearly and was very honest” said Bev.

She went on to add that as much as she was very loving but there were people who did not wish well and it was said that it even happened at her own organization and some of the people who were against her were people who she was there for regardless of what it took for her to help them. “She was backstabbed by people within her own organization” said Bev during her tribute to her dear friend Prudence.

Looking at how everyone spoke fondly of her work it is evidence that Mabele is a true legend, who deserves recognition and praise of all that she have done for the HIV and Aids people in South Africa and beyond. His grandfather Moses Mabele shared very powerful words speaking about Prudence, even went to make an example about a dog from Japan that a stature was put in place because of it dedication and asked “if the president of Japan can put up a stature of a dog, why would a president of South Africa do not do the same for Prudence who was very dedicated in making sure that people living with HIV get treatment”. This was of course directed to the press. Cyril Ramaphosa who was present at the funeral and he shared his wish that he hope that the government listens, because politicians constantly do not listen.



2017 July 19 Dr Goma _4122


Prudence Mabele’s funeral was one of the most powerful, well organized and attended by various people. “The funeral wouldn’t have been like this if it wasn’t for our dear friend Lerato” said Dr. Miranda Goma, who continued her speech and questioned ‘why is there no state funeral for Prudence.” She emphasized those words based on hard work that Prudence did for many communities. She was with Prudence until her last days. She went on to say that all people wanted to do was to speak at the funeral, those are the only requests they received.  The people who promised to donate, they did not. “The bank account is still not closed yet, it is still open, and you can make those contributions as promised. We still have to pay the people we borrowed the money from” she concluded.

The funeral service was scheduled to take happen between 8am-11am but due to speeches taking longer and for some destructions. The cortege left cemetery late noon and everything finished off by 16h30. She was laid to rest at Westpark Cemetery alongside South African popular citizens.


2017 July 19 Prudence s funeral _4230


Related links

About Prudence Mabele


A visual tribute to Prudence Mabele by Bev Ditsie



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