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World’s oldest woman, 128, dies in South Africa

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A South African woman said to be the world’s oldest person, Johanna Mazibuko has passed on at the age of 128.

The mother-of-seven died in her Jouberton, North West Province, home on 3 March, and would have been 129 in May, local reports said.

Those close to her said she had ID documents that prove she was born on 11 May 1894, and grew up on a maize farm. She never went to school and could not read or write, they said.

Her caregiver and daughter-in-law, Thandiwe Wesinyana told newsmen that Mazibuko might have died from a stroke.

Mazibuko said on her 128th birthday: “I am amazed at why I am still here after so many years. Why am I still here? People around me have been dying.

“When will I die? What’s the point of being alive? The world has tired me because I am just sitting here doing nothing”.

Mazibuko will be buried on Saturday in Jouberton, Klerksdorp. She was one of 12 siblings of which three younger ones are still alive.

She had recalled: “We lived so well on the farms. There were no problems then. I can’t remember my childhood well but I do remember a locust infestation.

“There were ones we could catch and eat. It was like you are eating meat. We would just fry them and eat the like that just on their own.

“I grew up healthy eating mostly fresh milk and wild spinach. Now I eat modern food. I am used to it but I miss the food I grew up on”.

She married an older widower Stawana Mazibuko, but cannot remember when. She said his first wife had died and he owned cows and she would make butter.

Johanna said: ‘He made sure I did not want for anything’.

They had seven children, two of whom are still alive, and has over 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is being mourned in South Africa.

Mazibuko survived both World Wars as well as two global pandemics (Covid-19 and the Spanish Flu). She was alive during Queen Victoria’s rein in Britain, the Wright brother’s first flight and the first Russian revolution.

Caregiver Thandiwe said she took her into hospital on February 14 and was treated for a stroke and was discharged on 28 February.

She died at home three days later and will be buried on Saturday in Jouberton.

Thandiwe said: “We loved to pray together and spent most of our days drinking tea and talking. I don’t know who I’m going to have fun with anymore.

“A wound has opened, my heart is sore, and I am shattered. The community is saddened. We’ve all lost a mother”.

Officially, the world’s oldest person is a San Francisco-born woman, aged 115. She was handed the title after the death of French nun Sister Andr√©, 118, earlier in 2023.

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