Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Rev. Phumzile Mabizela, board member and ally in the struggle towards a more inclusive and affirming faith space on the African continent. 

Her work with the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (INERELA) was a witness to her life’s work in breaking the silence and challenge stigma in faith communities. In IAM’s 25-year celebration video (2020), Phumzile reminds us that “in our work with IAM we are trying to liberate sexuality.”

Rev. Ecclesia De. Lange, Director of Inclusive & Affirming Ministries, responded to news of Phumzile’s passing saying, “Phumzile was a leader who was not afraid to embrace the road less travelled, siding with unpopular opinions and people on the margins. Her efforts to advance social justice, in particular her work for women, PLHIV and LGBTQ+ rights, are celebrated globally. May the transformative work she helped build continue.  She will be greatly missed at IAM. May she rest in peace and may God grant her family, friends, and colleagues peace and comfort”. 

Even more than the legacy that Phumzile leaves behind, she will be remembered for the depth of her relationships with people that she encountered, advised, and joined in the realities of their lives. Drawing from a deep well of spirituality, Phumzile’s embodied presence in organisations like IAM will be missed. We witnessed her ability to connect activism with the Christian faith through her choices to be honest in her journey with her own vulnerability and that of others. 

Tashwill Esterhuizen, chair of IAM’s board, remembered her with great admiration. “(T)hrough servant leadership, (Phumzile) has dedicate her life to bring about social change and create a society where we all can live with dignity. Her empathy, compassion and respect for her fellow human beings will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and those whose lives she has touched.”

We wish her family a peace that passes all understanding during this time of loss and mourning.

Hamba kahle, dear Phumzile – you will be deeply missed by the whole IAM team.