A year after ProKid’s untimely death, Mandisa Mbanjwa opens up about the rapper’s last moments and how his father has helped her heal
IT’S been a year since his passing and she’s still picking up the pieces of her broken heart. When hip-hop megastar ProKid passed away last August, Mandisa Mbanjwa was shattered. Not only did she watch the man she had loved for 13 years take his last breath, she also became the talk of the town when the circumstances around ProKid’s death became tabloid fodder.
There were reports he’d died after a drug and booze binge. Another headline screamed the rapper died in the arms of his side-chick.
Mandisa is tired of all the talk and wants to set the record straight. She’s pouring out her heart in an exclusive interview.
“I was not a nyatsi but his queen,” she tells DRUM.
She’s accompanied by her friend Lola Mapanya when we meet her at a restaurant in Newtown Junction in Joburg. Mandisa, a sales and marketing consultant, first dated Pro 14 years ago, but their romance was short-lived. In 2017 their paths crossed again and the two fell head over heels in love.
She was with Pro, real name Linda Mkhize, when he passed away in the three-bedroom Joburg flat they shared with Lola, she admits. But she denies being his mistress.
“I don’t like the fact that I’m still seen as that girl who dated a married man.”
Pro’s father, Zwelakhe Kheswa, has accompanied Mandisa and Lola.
He says Pro shared a daughter with Ayanda Dhlamini but had never tied the knot.
“ProKid was never married,” Zwelakhe (62) says. “I was the one who went to pay damages for his daughter. We didn’t pay any lobola for anyone.”
Mandisa was banned from her lover’s funeral out of respect for Ayanda, and she still feels robbed of the opportunity to pay her last respects to her beloved.
“I was bitter because I didn’t do anything wrong. I only wanted to see him off.”
Recently she visited the love of her life at Westpark Cemetery, where he was laid to rest, for the first time.
She’s forgiven Pro’s family, who performed a cleansing ceremony after his father reached out to her.
Zwelakhe, devastated by his son’s passing, arranged to meet Mandisa after the funeral. “I had to find closure,” he says.
“I needed to make it possible for my son to rest in peace.”
Now Zwelakhe considers Mandisa part of the Mkhize family. “We’re bound for life because my son took his last breath at her house.”
THE death of the Sekele hitmaker stunned the nation but it shook Mandisa to her core. Pro died of a bleeding pancreas at the age of 37. The night before, the rapper was chatty as usual, she says – but the next morning he was a shadow of his old self.
“He looked frail but he didn’t want to go to the hospital.”
Instead, Pro asked Mandisa to play him music. “I played gospel because I could see he wasn’t well. I don’t know why but it made sense at the time.”
He was singing along to Mary Mary with difficulty, she recalls. At one point, he started having premonitions.
“He said he was seeing an old man with grey hair. But we didn’t see anything. He thought maybe he was going crazy.”
Zwelakhe says the description fits that of his grandfather who was a healer in Eswatini.
“ProKid was psychic. He saw into the future like his great-grandfather, but he never got to practise.”
Pro, Mandisa says, was also scared to close his eyes. “He said he was seeing Lucifer from a distance and when he tried to shoot him, he didn’t move. He only fell when he hit him with a Bible. But he stood back up again.”
This prompted her to light a candle and pray for the rapper. “I’m a pastor’s kid and I knew what this meant. I knew death was coming for him. I asked him if he wanted to go home (to Soweto) but he refused.”
Pro reassured her he wasn’t going anywhere, but she knew he was at death’s door.
“He knew where he wanted to take his last breath. He was an adult and made his choice.”
Soon, he took a turn for the worse and started vomiting. “While I was asking why he was vomiting, he shouted, ‘This thing is coming back, please hold me’. I ran to him and held him,” Mandisa says, her eyes welling up with tears.
“I thought it was the seisures he warned us about.”
Before he died, Pro had suffered seizures on two occasions.
Mandisa sobs and Lola picks up the story. “He was breathing in a very strange way,” she says.
While Mandisa tried to performed CPR, Lola called the ambulance.
ON THE other side of town, Zwelakhe was having his evening cup of coffee while his son’s life was nearing its end. “I don’t know if I was feeling down or needed solace of my own, but I wasn’t myself,” he recalls.
He remembers a knock on the door and being told to get into the car but wasn’t told where they were going. When they arrived at Mandisa’s flat in Joburg CBD, paramedics were at the scene trying to resuscitate his son.
It felt like Pro was waiting for him, the old man says. “I kneeled next to him. He was reluctant to take his last breath. He held my hand tight and took his last breath.”
He had last seen his firstborn a month before he died. “He was a midnight mover because of his work. He came to see me in Jabulani, but I was already in bed. He promised to come back.”
Sadly, it was a promise he couldn’t keep. Yet Mandisa is comforted by the fact that, before he died, Pro spent time with the other woman in his life, mom Fikile. She passed away in April this year.
“I’m just glad they saw each other before they both died.”
Having lost his wife and his son within a year, Zwelakhe has found comfort in Mandisa, who provided much-needed answers about Pro’s last few hours alive. “I needed to quiet the storm, he says. “I don’t blame Mandisa because ProKid was an adult. He made his own choices. I also knew she needed comfort so she could continue with her life.”
Reports that Pro had drank himself to death pains him. Zwelakhe says his son wasn’t an angel, but he never saw Pro drunk. “I’d see evidence in the form of empty bottles lying around but my son was very smart,” he says.
“He had a gift. You could see in his lyrics, they were deeper than you think.”
One year on, their hearts are still heavy with grief and longing. “I miss him every day,” Mandisa says. “My man walked me to work when he could be anywhere, but he chose to be with me.
“Pro raised the bar very high. I doubt I’ll ever meet a guy who will love me the way he did.”
‘I doubt I’ll ever meet a guy who will love me the way he did’