Godelieve Ngwanamolepo was born on the 5th of April in 1926 to Kgololo and Nkepile Sekele. She attended school in Doornspruit in Pietersburg, now known as Polokwane in Limpopo province. She was taught by nuns and in her latter years she would fondly reminisce about them and their generosity.
She grew up in GaMapangola village in GaMashashane where she met Frank Makhura Sexwale. They were united in holy matrimony in 1945 following him qualifying as a teacher. The couple was blessed with six children: Mathabatha, Lesetja, Mosima, Magirly, Johnny and Mashadi.
In 1949 they moved to Soweto and settled in Mzimhlophe where they lived with their relatives. They later settled in Dube Village in 1954 where they lived for the rest of their lives.
Their first two children were born in Limpopo, and the rest in Johannesburg following their relocation.
Fondly referred to as Aunty by her children, neighbours and friends, she was a pillar in the community and was a staunch and committed Catholic who was a member of St Anne’s Soldality for over 60 years. The name Aunty came about in Mzimhlophe when her children referred to her in the same way as their cousins did.
She became a grandmother for the first time in 1972 and thus began her being referred to as Koko by many.
After her last-born started school in 1966 Aunty worked as a domestic worker for a brief period until experiencing gross racism by her employer. After quitting on the spot she was offered alternative employment by her employer’s husband at Campaign Media in Hillbrow where she worked as a tea lady until 1986 when she retired.
Following the 1976 Soweto uprising, five of her six children joined the liberation movement as freedom fighters of Umkhonto We Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC. As family members of liberation fighters Koko and her husband were regularly harassed by the Special Branch. In 1983 they were detained along with their daughter Mashadi at Protea and Moroka police stations.
In 1981 Koko’s son Lesetja was brutally murdered by the boers in combat in Escort in the Eastern Cape and overcome with grief, she was never the same after that.
Aunty was an extremely proud and immaculate woman who kept a squeaky clean house and loved to crochet. With an extremely sweet tooth, she beamed with joy when her children and grandchildren brought her treats.
An active community member and friend to many of her neighbours, Koko was part of a social club in Dube where she socialised with friends and partook in their recreational and exercise programs.
A courageous woman, in the last decade of her life Koko would complain of various ailments but kept a brave face as she was admitted to hospital on several occasions. Although we mourn her loss, we are comforted by the end to her suffering, and rejoice at her being reunited with her life partner, her siblings and parents.
Aunty was admitted at SK Matseke Hospital in Soweto and passed on a few days later on the 29th of January 2022. She will be sorely missed by her family.
Koko is survived by 5 of her children, 18 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. She will be laid to rest together with her beloved husband near her son Lesetja at the Heroes Acre at Avalon Cemetery.
Robala ka khutšo Leso Mallela Go Tuma Go Busha Re Sa Go Lllele. Mogoasha!