Makhene was pillar of strength

Sechaba Molefe

Sechaba Molefe

Catherine "Mama Makhene" Makhene - mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, respected community leader and bread winner - is no more.

Born on August 9 1930, she was a staunch member of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. She was associated with many religious organisations - such as the Women's Missionary Association.

She was also president of the church's East Conference, later president of the 19th district of the same organisation and was also deputy president of the Women's World Day of Prayer.

"Mama Makhene was a very supportive, very prominent, caring and assertive figure in the community," said her friend of 20 years, Bertha Gxowa.

Makhene was instrumental in promoting equal rights within her church and community, and always insisted that at Good Friday vigils women should have a right to speak as much as men. She also served as a pastor during the apartheid years.

Makhene was married to the Reverend Andrew Makhene.

She will be buried today at Vanderbijlpark. The service at St Peter's African Methodist Church in Sharpeville starts at 11am.