Community leader mourned

Nomzamo Kholisa

A dark cloud hung over TR Section in Khayelitsha last Thursday when a community builder, a teacher and a woman described as a hero to her people, passed on.

Nomzamo Kholisa owned a creche which accommodated more than 50 children in Khayelitsha. She wore many hats – from that of a street committee member, a development fighter for the TR Section and a respected senior citizen.

Two years ago, Ms Kholisa, 66, used her pension grant, along with some donations from her community, to convert her home into a proper creche, but late in December a fire gutted the five-room double-storey building and also destroyed a shack at the back. When she died at Mitchell’s Plain Hospital last Thursday, she was busy seeking help to rebuild the structure. The last time she spoke to Vukani she was excited that there were donors who were interested in helping her and her community.

Her friends and the community members who spoke to Vukani were shocked about her sudden death of this well-known mother of two known by many as “Mama Weembungulu”.

And her son Mabhuti Kolisa, said she has left a living legacy behind. The family, he said, had accepted the loss, although it was difficult to cope with the news when they heard it.

He described his mother as a “brave woman, a community developer and a mother who loved children”. He said the loss has left a big hole to the community of TR but he is encouraged to see the community promising to continue with the creche.

“That is the only thing my mother would have loved, to see children getting education in a healthy way and in a better environment. She loved children and that is why she built a creche. Mama was very loyal to the community of this area. She was in every development meeting. It is a pity that she passed while fighting for the people to be relocated to a better place,” he said.

One of the carers at the creche, Nontathu Maxwele, said the people of the area had “lost a mother, a visionary and a helper”.

“She was a role model to many women in this area,” she said. “Nomzamo fought for us and our children to get a piece of everything development here.”She said Ms Kolisa strived for good things for her community. She said on her last day on earth she called them and told them it was difficult for her. “I am not sure whether to say we were lucky to see her just before her departure. But when we were told of her passing, it was a difficult pill to swallow. It was unbelievable and it is still unbelievable. Nomzamo was everything to us, children, and the community,” she said.

Ms Kolisa’s body will be going home to the Eastern Cape today (Thursday June 4) and she will be buried in Mthatha on Saturday.