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‘World’s oldest woman’ dies aged 128: South African great-grandmother passes away from ‘stroke’


A woman said to be the world’s oldest person has died in South Africa at the age of 128 having lived through three different centuries.

Mother-of-seven Johanna Mazibuko, died in her Jouberton, North West Province, home on March 3, and would have been 129 in May, local reports said.

Those close to her said she had ID documents that prove she was born on May 11, 1894, and grew up on a maize farm. She never went to school and could not read or write, they said.

Speaking to News24, her caregiver and daughter-in-law Thandiwe Wesinyana said Mazibuko may have died from a stroke.

Mazibuko told the publication on her 128th birthday: ‘I am amazed at why I am still here after so many years. Why am I still here? People around me have been dying.

Mother-of-seven Johanna Mazibuko (pictured), died in her Jouberton, North West Province, home on March 3, and would have been 129 in May, local reports said

‘When will I die? What’s the point of being alive? The world has tired me because I am just sitting here doing nothing,’ she said.

Mazibuko will be buried on Saturday in Jouberton, Klerksdorp

She was one of 12 sibilings of which three younger ones are still alive.

Illiterate, she told News24: ‘We lived so well on the farms. There were no problems then. I can’t remember my childhood well but I do remember a locust infestation.

‘There were ones we could catch and eat. It was like you are eating meat. We would just fry them and eat the like that just on their own.

‘I grew up healthy eating mostly fresh milk and wild spinach. Now I eat modern food. I am used to it but I miss the food I grew up on’.

She married an older widower Stawana Mazibuko, but cannot remember when. She said his first wife had died and he owned cows and she would make butter.

Johanna said: ‘He made sure I did not want for anything’.

They had 7 children, two of whom are still alive, and has over 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is being mourned in South Africa.

Mazibuko survived both World Wars as well as two global pandemics (Covid-19 and the Spanish Flu). She was alive during Queen Victoria’s rein in Britain, the Wright brother’s first flight and the first Russian revolution.

Caregiver Thandiwe said said she took her into hospital on February 14 and was treated for a stroke and was discharged on February 28.

She died at home three days later and will be buried on Saturday in Jouberton.

Mazibuko (pictured) told the publication on her 128th birthday: 'I am amazed at why I am still here after so many years. Why am I still here? People around me have been dying'

 Mazibuko (pictured) told the publication on her 128th birthday: ‘I am amazed at why I am still here after so many years. Why am I still here? People around me have been dying’

Those close to her said she had ID documents that prove she was born on May 11, 1894, and grew up on a maize farm. She never went to school and could not read or write, they said

Those close to her said she had ID documents that prove she was born on May 11, 1894, and grew up on a maize farm. She never went to school and could not read or write, they said

Thandiwe told News24: ‘We loved to pray together and spent most of our days drinking tea and talking. I don’t know who I’m going to have fun with anymore.

‘A wound has opened, my heart is sore, and I am shattered. The community is saddened. We’ve all lost a mother’ she said.

Officially, the world’s oldest person is a San Francisco-born woman, aged 115. She was handed the title after the death of French nun Sister André, 118, earlier in 2023.

At the time of her birth Maria Branyas Morera – confirmed by Guinness World Records as the oldest person – was suffering from a second wave of the Bubonic plague. She is now considered a ‘supercentenarian’ – a title given to people once they pass the age of 110.

Morera, who has three children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, attributes her old age to ‘order, tranquillity’ and ‘staying away from toxic people’.

And despite her age, she is active on social media, frequently posting on Twitter with the help of her daughter. She is also a keen piano player.

Both Morera and Sister André survived a bout of Covid-19, making them the two oldest-known people to have survived the deadly virus.

In 2021, it was claimed that an Eritrean man who died in September that year had been 127. Natabay Tinsiew’s family claimed that local records showed he was born in 1894, saying he was present when his village celebrated his 120th birthday in 2014.

The oldest-ever living person verified by Guinness was Frenchwoman Jeanne Louise Calment, who died aged 122 years and 164 days in 1997. 

Most centenarians (a person who has reached the age of 100 years) are found in the world’s so-called blue zones, where people live longer than average, such as Okinawa in Japan or on the Italian island of Sardinia.

San-Francisco born Maria Branyas officially become the world's oldest person aged 115 earlier this year, after the death of a French nun by the name of Sister André

San-Francisco born Maria Branyas officially become the world’s oldest person aged 115 earlier this year, after the death of a French nun by the name of Sister André

Marero became the world's oldest living person following the death of French nun Sister André (pictured) earlier this month. Both of them survived a bout of Covid-19

Marero became the world’s oldest living person following the death of French nun Sister André (pictured) earlier this month. Both of them survived a bout of Covid-19 

In 2021, it was claimed that an Eritrean man who died in September that year had been 127. The family of Natabay Tinsiew (pictured) claimed local records showed he was born in 1894

In 2021, it was claimed that an Eritrean man who died in September that year had been 127. The family of Natabay Tinsiew (pictured) claimed local records showed he was born in 1894

But France, while not considered a blue zone, nonetheless has 30,000 centenarians, according to statistics institute Insee, with around 40 of them 110 or older.

Last year Brazilian officials claimed to have found a woman who was 121 years old living in a small city in the state of Bahia.

The woman, called Maria Gomes dos Reis could have been born on June 16, 1900, making her by far the oldest person in the world. 

However, this has not yet been confirmed by, with her family needing to pay 4,000 Brazilian reais, around £640, and provide legal documents proving her age to Guinness World Records.

WORLD EVENTS SHE WOULD HAVE LIVED THROUGH 

Mother-of-seven Johanna Mazibuko, died in her Jouberton, North West Province, home on March 3, and would have been 129 in May, reports say.

People close to her claim she had ID documents that prove she was born on May 11, 1894. From the Wright Brothers’ first flight, the First and Second World Wars, the fall of the Berlin Wall all the way up to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mazibuko has lived through it all.

1894: ID documents shows Johanna Mazibuko was born in South Africa

1897: Greco-Turkish war

1901: Formation of the Commonwealth of Australia, Queen Victoria dies

1903: Wright brothers make first flight, Suffragettes in Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Wright Brothers make their first flight in December, 1903

The Wright Brothers make their first flight in December, 1903

1905: First Russian revolution

1914: World War I begins

1917: Russian revolution leads to communism

1918: World War I ends, Spanish flu pandemic kills millions

1921: Chinese Communists rise

1924: Russia goes from Lenin to Stalin

1927: Lindbergh nonstop flight to Paris

1934: Hitler consolidates power in Germany

1939: World War II Starts

1941: The Holocaust begins 

Troops from the 48th Royal Marines at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer on Juno Beach, Normandy, France, during the D-Day landings, 6th June 1944

Troops from the 48th Royal Marines at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer on Juno Beach, Normandy, France, during the D-Day landings, 6th June 1944

1945: World War II and the Holocaust ends, first nuclear detonation

1947: India gains independence

1948: Birth of Israel

1949: NATO founded

1950: Korean War starts

1952: Elizabeth II crowned in Britain, First Hydrogen Bomb Test

1953: The discovery of DNA

1955: Rosa Parks galvanises civil rights movement, Vietnam war begins

1958: US Launches First Satellite

1959: Castro takes over Cuba

1961: Berlin Wall built

1962: Cuban Missile Crisis

1963: JFK assassinated in Texas

1966: Mao purges rivals

1967: Six-Day War

1968: Martin Luther King assassinated

1969: Moon Landing

The Moon Landing in 1969

The Moon Landing in 1969

1975: Saigon Falls, Vietnam war ends

1976: The Concorde changes air travel

1977: Rise of the PC

1979: Islamic Republic born in Iran

1983: The Internet is born

1989: The Berlin Wall falls

1991: America goes to war in Middle East, Apartheid legislation repealed

1992: Cold War ends, breakup of Yugoslavia

1993: The EU becomes reality with treaty

1994: Rwandan genocide 

1999: NATO’s first independent strike in Kosovo

2000: International Space Station opens

2001: 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York, U.S. invades Afghanistan

Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Center after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a terrorist attack September 11, 2001 in New York City

Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Center after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a terrorist attack September 11, 2001 in New York City

2003: U.S. Invades Iraq

2004: Boxing Day Tsunami, Facebook founded 

2007: The iPhone is released

2008: Dow plunges, global economic crash

2012: The ‘God Particle’ Is (probably) discovered

2016: Trump Elected, Britain votes to leave the EU

2019: Hong Kong Protests

2020: COVID-19 global pandemic 

2022: Russia invades Ukraine 

2023: Johanna Mazibuko dies ‘aged 128’ according to those close to her



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