Submitted by:  Benita Du Plooy

South Africa is my country of birth and I spent the first 64 years of my life in SA and Namibia.  … So, I am in Africa, as Africa is in me…I no longer live there, but South Africa will forever run through my blood.

I have a beautiful story to tell of a human angel that once walked the earth.  Disebo Moletsane, aka Elizabeth, was born in 1934 in the beautiful then Witsieshoek, Orange Free State.

Fast forward:

Liesbet, short for Elizabeth, ended up in Johannesburg as a domestic worker.  She met Isaac, and had a son and daughter with him.  They divorced later and she met uncle James, an absolute saint.

Brixton, Johannesburg, early 1952.

My late Mom was a career woman.  When I was eight months old Mom was going back to work and was looking for a nanny for me and my brother, who was just a year older than me.  She was sitting outside on the ‘stoep’ when along came Liesbet, with her baby daughter on her back, and her son’s hand in hers.

That is how Liesbet came to live in the Olivier family, and for 62 years, until she lay her head down for the last time, she and James were an integral part of our lives.  I changed her name to Lieliebet and she was my surrogate Mom, my friend, my confidant, and my sister in Christ.

I am sure that when the world began, our raw elements lay close together, my soul and hers, connected long before we met in the flesh. 

Liesbet taught me to cook.  She baked cakes and made the best ‘vetkoek’ ever.  She had the most infectious laugh and a great sense of humour.  She taught us about the Basotho people, her heritage, and we would always snuggle in her seanamarena (tribal blanket).  She planted marogo (much like spinach) and we would sit with her and devour pap and marog.  When my sister developed epilepsy, James would drive her to school and fetch her in the afternoons.

We took Liesbet to see the ocean for the first time and I remember her absolute joy.  She was like a little girl, and her awestruck joy when we took her to the Kruger National Park is imprinted in my mind.

Sadly, her beautiful son died tragically and she took on the task of raising her two granddaughters, before tragedy struck again.  Her daughter, then in Year 10, drowned.  Although devastated, she stayed strong and kept her faith.

She invited us, with excitement, when she had an ‘American kitchen’ makeover done to her humble home in Natalsprui , and her telephone made her feel so important.  Aw … how we would call one another over the years when I had moved far away.

Our Lieliebet was now also our hero.  What an amazing woman she was.

After she retired, Liesbet would come and visit often and we spent lovely times together.  On one of these occasions (after I had already left home) she came out of the bathroom to find Mom in the breakfast room with her back towards the back door.  To her horror, a perpetrator had entered and was standing with a shovel, ready to attack Mom.  There were two other perpetrators outside the door, also ready to enter.

With bloodcurdling screams, which got Mom to turn around, the two women, using brute force, pushed him out of the door and they managed to lock the security door.  Fortunately, her screams also alerted the neighbours, who called the police.   Our Lieliebet was now also our hero.  What an amazing woman she was.

She and James were always present at all the weddings and special family days.  James passed first and then we lost Mom (15 years ago).  Liesbet’s granddaughter brought her to our house to stay for the weekend for the funeral.   By now she was almost blind due to cataracts on both eyes.  When we read Mom’s will, she had left Liesbet a substantial amount of money.  I still remember the tears running down her cheeks, saying that the first thing she was going to do was to have her eyes operated on.

What beautiful memories flood my soul when I think of my Lieliebet and her positive outlook on life, her unconditional love for her fellow man.


I am sure that when the world began, our raw elements lay close together, my soul and hers, connected long before we met in the flesh.  My Lieliebet, we are in Africa as Africa is in us – we are connected…

Stay well…Sala Kahle