‘World’s oldest woman’ celebrates 128th birthday and says ‘bury me well’

Johanna Mazibuko is believed to be the world’s oldest living person.

The woman from Jouberton, Klerksdorp, in South Africa’s North West province, is believed to have celebrated her 128th birthday on Wednesday, May 11.

Born on a maize farm in the Ottosdal region, she was the eldest of 12, and three of her siblings are still alive today.

Though she can't remember her childhood all that well, she recalls the time there was a plague of locusts on the farms.

She said: "There were ones we could catch and eat. It was like you are eating meat. We would just fry them and eat them like that, just on their own."

Johanna says, however, that her diet when she was growing up was mostly fresh milk and wild spinach.

She said: "Now, I eat modern food. I am used to it, but I do miss the food I grew up on.”

"We lived so well on the farms. There were no problems,” she says.

Johanna married an older widower named Stawana Mazibuko although she can’t quite remember when.

She said: "I was married to an older man. His first wife had died. He was an independent man. He had a horse carriage and cows. I would milk the cows and make butter to sell. That man treated me very well and made me forget about my life before him. I did not want for anything."

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She had seven kids with Stawana, two of whom are alive today.

In addition to her two children, Johanna boasts some 50 grandkids and great-grandkids.

After getting hitched, Johanna earned her living by doing domestic work for owners of farms.

She said: "I ironed and cleaned; the people were kind. That is the life I want to go back to. I don't know why I came to Jouberton because life is hard here.

"When you don't have money, you suffer. On the farms, we lived off the things we farmed. We would get rations as well. At the end of the year, we would get sacks of maize and we would go and sell them and make money."

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Johanna is a little hard of hearing these days but can still see. She can even still move around the house albeit only with the help of a frame.

She said: "My body is stiff. When I walk, I walk like a child. When people are walking up and down the streets, I just watch through my window and wish I could be like them."

Johanna has a carer named Thandiwe Wesinyana, who has lived with her since 2001.

Thandiwe said of their bond: "I can't sleep when I am not next to her. When I come back, she will also say she couldn't sleep. She says she just sits by the window looking at the gate and wondering when I will be back."

Matlosana mayor James Tsolela earlier revealed that the municipality was gifting her a sofa for her special day.

He said: "We have been checking and doing research to see who is the oldest. We can't find anyone her age. We do have her ID saying that. We have to try and put her in the book of Guinness Book of Records, so she can be properly honoured."

Johanna, who says she is unsure why she has reached such an advanced age, said: "When I die, they must slaughter a cow for me. They must bury me well, so that I never bother them."

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