I first met Nozipho in 2002 when Linah Jokazi asked me to go and visit a very sick woman in Westlake, who needed help. She told me her name was Nozipho and that she had TB and she was also HIV positive. She said she had 2 children in the Eastern Cape. They needed clothes and she didn’t have a job and didn’t know what to do, but she did believe in Jesus. We prayed together and she said she had hope. I told my church, St Martin’s, I had met a woman who was HIV positive and she needed our help. The church gave me food and clothes for her and her children.
I didn’t know much about HIV then, and I didn’t know anyone else who was
HIV positive. But it was because of Nozipho that I started finding out about HIV and AIDS. She told me the clinic wanted to start a support group. There were only 6 people in the support group and we decided to call it ITHEMBA for HOPE. Jenny and Alice, Bridget and Mary, all from St Martin’s, came to help in Westlake and because Nozipho wanted to learn to sew, we started a little crafts group in a garage in Westlake. More and more people wanted to come and do sewing and beadwork, and we learnt more about HIV and AIDS. At the time, people in Westlake called her MRS AIDS. But she never lost hope, and she started taking ARV’s in 2004, and her health improved. Her CD 4 count went up to 1000! We now know over 200 people who are HIV positive in Westlake.
Nozipho loved sewing and was always at the hall sewing bags, mats, traditional skirts, and umbacos.
She said to me ‘more and more people are coming to tell me they are HIV positive, and I say they must join the support group’. She loved the support group, and she was always encouraging everyone in the group. She led by example and people looked up to her. Even in the Eastern Cape when she went there, she would come back saying all the people wanted to talk to her about HIV and find out about the support group in Westlake. She was never afraid to openly disclose her status and even in hospital, she would tell people in the ward and they would come and ask her questions. I believe it would have been her wish that more people would talk about their status.
She loved children, always bringing lots of children to church every Sunday. She would bring Nothemba’s children, Kanya and Luve, Nombedesho’s child, Pinky, Rachel’s children, Lebo and Cwenga, and Inga, and all their friends! She wanted the children to know and love Jesus like she did.
She was so proud of her own 2 children, Yamkela and Kamva. She was always so excited to go and see them in the Eastern Cape, and this year they have come to live in Cape Town. We must take care of her children. They now do not have a mother or a father.
Nozipho’s name means ‘gift’, and she was a gift to us all. She was an inspiration to us, a shining light, always smiling, always had hope – in Jesus. She loved coming to church. A lot of people here at St Martin’s prayed for her. She had courage to fight HIV – with faith and trust and always hope in the Lord.
Nozipho, Somdala, sister in Christ and a special friend of mine. A woman of God. We will miss you, Nozipho, here at St Martin’s, and at Westlake.
And to the family, I say Yoxolo Inkosi ibe nawe. (May the peace of Jesus be with you).
This was a tribute read at Nozipho’s memorial service at St Martin’s Church, Bergvliet, on Thursday 25 March 2010 by Di Forrester. Read Nozipho’s story here.