A woman believed to be South Africa and perhaps Africa’s oldest living person has died aged 128.
Johanna Mazibuko, a mother of seven, died on March 3 at her home in Jouberton in the country’s North West province. According to local media reports, she was supposed to be 129 in May.
Thandiwe Wesinyana, her carer and daughter-in-law, told News24 that a stroke may have been the cause of death.
“The whole community lost a mother,” she told the agency.
According to people close to her, Joanna grew up on a corn farm in South Africa, but she never went to school and couldn’t read or write.
Although she has not been officially confirmed as the world’s oldest living woman by Guinness World Records, there are documents indicating that she was born in 1894.
In the years that followed, she lived through three centuries and witnessed British colonialism, apartheid and two world wars.
She celebrated her 128th birthday on May 11, 2022 and said the secret to aging is a diet of wild spinach and fresh milk.
Joanna is the eldest of 12 children, three of whom are living, she had 7 children, two of whom survive, and she has over 50 grandchildren.
Her death is mourned across South Africa.
“We lived well on the farms,” Joanna said, recalling her childhood. “There were no problems then. I don’t remember my childhood that well anymore, but I do remember the locust plague.
“There were some we could pick up and eat. It was like eating meat. We just fried them and ate them alone.”
She later married an elderly widower named Stuana Mazipuku after his first wife died, but she cannot remember exactly when.
“This man treated me so well and made me forget my life before him, I didn’t want anything.
After Joanna got married, she made a living doing housework for the farmers and worked for years.
The wider Johanna community in South Africa has been trying to find a way to officially recognize seniors in the Guinness Book of World Records.
When she was growing up, Thandiwe hired Wisnyana as a caretaker.
The couple have been living together since 2001 and have become good friends.