After 38 years as a nurse, Nosiphiwo Matsau has retired, and last week her Nolungile clinic colleagues, her family, friends and comrades from the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) threw a farewell party for her.
Azapo president Strike Thokaone hailed Ms Matsau, who is fondly known “Big Sister”, as a resilient character who had withstood a lot of pain in her life.
“Big Sister was persecuted for her political beliefs, her family home was burnt down in Gqebera in the 1980s when was starting out as a nurse. She never allowed that to demoralise her; she continued to service black people with pride,” he said.
Mr Thokoane said serving the community had always been Ms Matsau’s top priority, and he urged young nurses to follow her example.
Nolungile clinic manager Sister Khuliswa Mbotyi said they would remember Ms Matsau for her humility and dedication.
“She was everything to this community; you could say she is a people’s nurse who is touched by the daily plight of the people she served. She leaves behind a huge void, but we will always try to walk in her footsteps,” said Ms Mbotyi.
“Big Sister” recalled a moment when she had been accosted by tsotsis while running a school programme in Site C.
“Three young boys came in and demanded we give them our phones. One of the children at the school had mobilised other learners to help us. I looked them in the eye and resisted and suddenly they jumped fences running away from us,” she said.
It had been a long walk but she felt satisfied with her contribution to health-care in the community, she said.
Her Azapo comrades saluted her for supporting her husband, Azanian Liberation Army commander Skaap Matsau, who was bedridden for more than 10 years after a car crash in 2005.
In her retirement, Ms Matsau will be helping a company that sells disposable vaginal spatulas.
“We need to create awareness about cervical cancer,” she said. “There many misconceptions about pap smears, and I want to help educate my people.”