‘Zodwa Dabengwa was a courageous woman’

The Khumalo and Dabengwa families have described the late Zodwa Dabengwa, wife of the late national hero and former ZAPU leader Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, who died in the United Kingdom as a courageous woman.

Zodwa, popularly known as MaKhumalo, died of respiratory illness in London on June 15, 2023.

The families described how MaKhumalo endured many difficulties and tribulations as she stood by her late husband Dr Dabengwa, both during the liberation fight and after independence.

Sijabuliso Dabengwa, younger brother to the late Dr Dabengwa, said Makhumalo went to London around November 2019, after the death of her husband who passed away in May of that year.

“Her children had called her to come and take a breather and thought she would come back sooner but then Covid -19 struck and was prevented by the travel restrictions. She actually was supposed to be coming back this August but sadly this has happened,” Dabengwa said, adding he was deeply saddened to hear of her passing. 

“I was on my way back from Matopo, when I received a call in the late afternoon from a cousin telling me that Makhumalo had died. When I arrived in Bulawayo, we contacted the family in the UK, who informed us that funeral arrangements are still in the early stages because several service providers there close for the weekend.”

Dabengwa said the family informed Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Judith Ncube, of MaKhumalo’s death.

“We also asked the provincial minister if the government could help with burial arrangements since the death occurred overseas and there are high costs associated. Ncube said she will, in turn, inform top government officials and come back to us with a response,” he said.

Since precise funeral preparations have yet to be announced, Dabengwa said at the moment it was relatives who were coming in to mourn.

“Mourners will come to the family home (at 39 Diamond Street in Fourwinds) but we are not really ready because we don’t know how long the process will take,” he said.

Christina Sibanda, Makhumalo’s sister, concurred her death was a huge loss to the family.

“MaKhumalo was the second born in a family of eight. I am the firstborn. She was loving and loved people a lot. I regarded her as my pillar.  Her passing is a great loss to the Khumalo and Dabengwa families. We have lost an asset and it’s painful that out of eight children, three of us are only surviving,” she said.

Sibanda said Makhumalo was born on November 6, 1947 by Loncanda Samson Khumalo and Janet Ndiweni in Plumtree.

“Zodwa was a veteran’s wife and was dedicated to her husband’s cause even during times she would be in and out of the hospital. She stood with Dr Dabengwa and the entire country through many trials and tribulations,” she said.

MaKhumalo leaves behind five children,  two of whom live in the UK, one in the United States, the others in South Africa and Botswana including a number of grandchildren.

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