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A requiem for beloved Nozi

Nozipho Antie Gabathuse
The month of July will go down into history books as a bad one as the Gabathuse and the Mlobelis families were robbed of a wife, mother, sister and daughter, Nozipho Antie Gabathuse. She recently succumbed to gastric cancer at Bokamoso Private Hospital on July 28, 2020. Just over a month, Mmegi Staff Writer and husband RYDER GABATHUSE relives the painful moment of losing a dear wife

FRANCISTOWN: So many times in my career as a writer, I have written about the passing of many prominent people and commoners in our society alike.

Little did I know that one day, I will be confronted by the stark reality of paying my last respect to a loved one, as I do to my wife in this article.

I still can’t cope with the challenge of addressing her in the past, as I probably harbor hope that like the Biblical story of Lazarus whom Jesus Christ resurrected (four days) from the grave, I might get a similar divine favor in my life.

Even this week when I thought I was slowly picking the pieces and being strong again, tears incessantly welled up in my eyes leaving me with a teary vision, simply denying me a golden opportunity to pay a fitting last respect to my wife.

But, I kept telling myself, there is no better opportunity to use the tools of my trade to share the story of my wife. So, I picked sufficient courage to put the words together, bear with me, if my pen fails me, you are now familiar with my challenges.

Death can be so cruel. It can rob you of the person you love the most, at a time when you think life was the best thing to happen to you. Nozi’s passing on came at a time when we were preparing for a surprise 51st birthday party just in 21 days.

Despite that men and women of God prepare us to accept that one day we will all be gone, unfortunately, no one, it seems, is ready to meet his/her maker especially in the prime of their lives.

Death is a sad reality that we have to live with as unfortunately; it’s part of humanity itself.

It was on July 28, just in the morning, when a telephone call broke the painful news that my beautiful wife Nozi, had breathed her last at the Bokamoso Private Hospital.

 I immediately felt my world simply crushing over me. Two days before her passing, I had to kiss her normally, unbeknown to me that it was our last close contact. I was returning to work after a few days leave.

I have seen her beautiful days and her darkest moments when now gastric cancer had distorted her beauty. But, even during her lowest moments, she was still full of love and joked incessantly.

Sometime last year when I was on a three-month fellowship at the Amabhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism in Johannesburg, I received the bad news from Nozi confirming her cancer status. She had previously suffered from periodic ulcers, which had apparently metamorphosed into cancer.

That was my worst moment as fear continued to engulf me, as cancer treatment is quite tricky. As for Nozi, she was very hopeful and confident of quick recovery.

My fear was compounded by the fact that my mentor during my stay at Johannesburg, Drew Forrest, from IJ Hub, the training wing of Amabhungane, had lost his wife to cancer. So the fear and worry incessantly engulfed me, but Nozi kept on explaining her chances of survival better as a nursing practitioner as it’s a familiar territory to her.

When I visited home briefly after the cancer discovery, my wife was as bubbly and looking as healthy as ever as if nothing was happening to her body system. It gave me hope that the disease will be managed, especially with all her explanations on how she thought the disease would be vanquished.

Two medical doctors, who managed her condition at Bokamoso Private Hospital, further raised my hope, (an oncologist and a surgeon) who revealed their disease management plans to the family and it was promising.

But, cancer is a tricky ailment as

whilst Nozi kept on explaining that she was getting better, the disease was stealthily doing its damage inside until she finally succumbed to it on July 28.

The worst thing to happen to us, as a family was the last lockdown imposed upon greater Gaborone as it happened just when we were destined to relocate to Palapye where my wife’s remains were interred.

Lockdown is a good thing to manage the Corona virus pandemic, but it denied a lot of our friends and family members an opportunity to go and pay their last respects in Palapye.

At some stage, my wife’s siblings and children found themselves desperately trapped on the other side of Dibete cordon fence and were told they were not allowed to go and pay their last respects until we sought assistance from some senior government officials.

This is despite that they had presented all the requisite documents showing that they had a bereavement of their loved one.

Speakers at the funeral in Palapye presented Nozi as a hard worker whose presence at the various workplaces where she served left a long lasting impact.

Dr. Kgosidialwa Mompati of the Tati River Clinic in Francistown, speaking at the memorial service was worried about the fate of some projects at their clinic in Sowa Town where they had business dealings with Botswana Ash through the mine clinic.

Nozi was in charge of the mine clinic as a clinical administrator (Occupational and wellness Coordinator). She had also worked closely with Dr. Mompati during her days at the Tati Nickel Mine.

Her supervisor, Sabelo Matikiti, Botash Human Resource Manager, indicated how Nozi had turned around the wellness programme at the mine, something that he said had changed their way of doing business.

Matikiti told the mourners how just in a short period of time the mine’s executive management’s view of the wellness programme had shifted with the new sweeping changes.

It was also touching, how Nozi’s children remembered their mother as the pillar of support in their lives. In fact, she was the glue that held many together.

Other friends that spoke about Nozi include, Keneilwe Champane, Binang Masiga, Masego Thuma and Tiny Senau amongst others.

It was a co-founder of the Shadow of God Ministries based in Francistown, prophet Daniel Morupise who presented Nozi as a dedicated member of the church. She had a job simply cut for her, to interpret for both the prophet and his wife Apostle Thandiwe Morupise during church services.

His view was that Nozi had played her part on earth and it was time for her to shift and go and serve God in a different capacity in heaven.

Nozi started off her career in nursing with training at the Institute of Health Sciences in Kanye in 1988. Her first posting was at Bamalete Lutheran Hospital, before she joined Morupule Coal Mine until 2006.

She would then in 2006 join Tati Nickel Mine for 10 years before she joined Botswana Medical Aid (BOMAID). Her final job was at Botash where she would finally opt out due to ill health.

Nozi has had an illustrious career in nursing spanning over 30 years. It commenced with a diploma in registered nursing at Kanye, followed by a diploma in midwifery, diploma family nurse practitioner, certificate HIV/AIDS counselling-IDM, diploma occupational health Nursing-Wits University, post graduate HIV/AIDS management-Stellenbosch University, management development programme-Stellenbosch University and MBA Health Sciences Management-Regent.

She has also done postgraduate certificate enterprise risk management at Botswana Accounting College and senior leadership development programme at the University of Johannesburg.

She was the seventh child in a family of 10 from the late Mirriam and Turner Mlobeli, the Xhosas, who originated from Matatiela in the Eastern Cape. A husband, three children and six siblings survive her.

Lala ngoxolo Masokhulu! Lala ngoxolo Mavundla!




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