In December 1998, a young woman named Gugu Dlamini was beaten, stabbed and stoned to death by a group of men from her home township called KwaMashu for disclosing her HIV status to the public. Gugu Dlamini made a bold decision and decided to dedicate her life to educating, motivating and encouraging others to reveal their HIV status and talk about the disease as a social issue. She had already decided that the secret to overcoming the impact of a positive HIV status was to talk about it.
Her life had changed since she joined a support group, and she volunteered to be involved in community outreach campaigns to raise awareness and give HIV a face… Some of the community of KwaMashu, Durban, particularly the males, could not tolerate the reality of a woman who was confronting a monster which they, as men, feared or denied.
The final straw was when they heard her publicly disclose her status, firstly on air and later in a packed stadium in KwaMashu, encouraging other to do so because there was nothing to fear anymore. She was murdered in front of her 12 year old daughter, Mandisa, a short distance from their home by members of the community.
Since then, her name has been used to further the fight against HIV stigma and denialism, and her daughter has now returned to the same community to work with those infected and affected by the disease.
The GDF is registered as an Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and currently has a Board comprising of Ms Mandisa Dlamini as a Managing Director, Ms Gugu Kheswa, Ms Nompumelelo Motaung, Pastor Lecheurs Mpoko Mashego, Ms Gugulethu Hlongwane, Dr May Mashego- Mkhize, Ms Cynthia Chaka and Mr Ntando Zondo.
However, various notaries have been approached and the following have indicated their support and positive acceptance of a role on the Board or as patrons.
Judge Edwin Cameron, Constitutional Court Justice Mark Heywood, Executive Director of Section 27
The GDF also has the full support of the Office of the Premier Kwa-Zulu Natal and Aids Foundation South Africa.
Mandisa Dlamini is founder of the Gugu Dlamini Memorial Centre (GDF), she is a daughter of the late Gugu Dlamini and was born in Kwa-Zulu Natal on 28 June 1985. After the tragic death of her mother Gugu Dlamini, she was left devastated, empty, confused, stranded and faced with a lot of challenges.
But the challenges served as a life collage of education, socialization, opportunities and development. Going through life’s situations and meeting different characters she would never have met had her mother not passed on.
The incidence sparked nationwide and international reactions that exposed her to many mixed emotions, each one leading to the other until she met her surrogate mother who loved her and gave a life full of warmth, moral values, social and spiritual upliftment.
It is on the basis of all of these experiences that her life would never be the same again, and she will always consider other who are less fortunate than herself, and strive towards making a difference in people’s lives, especially women (such as her mother) and the girl child (such as herself) through education, girl child abuse, fighting poverty, Substance abuse and other related challenges.