Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, died surrounded by friends and family on Monday evening of cancer at the age of 43.

In recent years, Zoleka was very open about her cancer treatment as well as her history of drug addiction. She confirmed last year that she had cancer in her liver and lungs and that it had then spread to other organs. Although initially she was being treated as an outpatient, she was admitted to the hospital just over a week ago.

Her second husband was Thierry Bashala. They ended their marriage in 2020.

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Who is Thierry Bashala?

Thierry Bashala is a Congolese business executive based in South Africa. Zoleka met Thierry for the first time in 2012 at a clothing store while both were out shopping. In 2014, they decided to get married after dating for two years. They welcomed two children. Zoleka also had three children from her past relationship.

In 2010, tragedy struck Zoleka’s life when her 13-year-old daughter, Zenani, died in a car accident while returning from a concert. It occurred at a time when Zoleka herself was in the process of recovering from a suicide attempt. This led Zoleka to advocate for better road safety laws in her country.

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After eight years of marriage, Zoleka wanted to leave the relationship. She later said that it took two years for her to decide to take that step. According to her, the union no longer served her. Although she said she loved her ex-husband, it was not easy for her.

Zoleka said that she left her marriage to shift the power from the relationship back to herself.

“I have left someone that I once loved for eight whole years because I need to learn to be alone, to work on myself harder than in any other relationship, to recognize and accept my weaknesses, forgive myself, and finally celebrate my freedom,” she wrote in a social media post at the time.