'Paradise' singer succumbs to Aids

By Time of article published Aug 16, 2002

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Struggle singer Anneline Malebo, who spoke out about being raped and acquiring Aids as a result, has died.

Malebo, known for her courage and irrepressible sense of humour, recovered briefly from Aids-induced dementia after she began taking the anti-Aids drug AZT.

On Monday she looked in the mirror and joked: "I like what I see," one of her friends said.

Malebo's illness was advanced when she began taking the drug, however, and she was rushed to Somerset Hospital, Cape Town, on Wednesday morning after falling into a coma. She died on Thursday.

"Anneline had been the dearest sister with a spirit and sense of humour that even if you had wanted to, you could not switch off," said her sister Joyce Malebo, who will look after Anneline's children.

Malebo, 49, who sang the struggle song Paradise Road, was raped at a party two years ago.

For many months, even when her weight dropped from 60kg to just 38kg, she had no idea her rapist had infected her with the virus.

"I thought Aids happened to other people, not to me," she told reporters when she learnt she was HIV-positive.

"It can happen to anyone, and being famous does not help. People with the disease need help and love. I hope that my speaking out will help others."

Radio talkshow host Shado Twala described Malebo as a role-model.

"She was a tiny, but a powerful figure. She seemed almost possessed, every time she sang. The best was that she was a girl from Soweto in the media, singing, at a time in South Africa when that just didn't happen.

"She had chutzpah. She was unpredictable, always a fighter. I think it was the poverty she was living in in Guguletu, and her concerns about her family, that caused her to become ill so quickly."

Two benefit concerts, one in Green Point and a subsequent concert in Manenberg, were held to raise money for the singer.

The concert organisers had hoped that she would spend the money on anti-retroviral drugs but she decided to keep the money for her children.

"Anneline was so brave," said Raymond Joseph, a journalist who became Malebo's friend.

"We raised money for Anneline only because she was known. Thousands of others don't stand a chance," he added.

"The real tragedy is that when she was raped she was a victim. When she got Aids she was a victim. When she was excluded from having free anti-retrovirals, she was a victim. But she was so brave. Please God, will other people stand up and talk like she did."

Malebo is survived by her four children.

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