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ANC spewing after young leaders visit Israel

A monument brouhaha has erupted in the wake of last week’s study tour by a group of highly influential young South Africans.The private information-gathering tour of future SA leaders to the Middle East, conducted by independently-funded SA Jewish group SAIF, saw the delegates travelling to Israel and Palestine last week. Pictured is ex-Wits-11 radical turned anti-BDS, Klaas Mokgomole. Read Wits Coasas branch chair, Nthabiseng Molefe (now suspended) who confirmed to JR Online in an exclusive interview that BDS offered her R40 000 not to go





The brouhaha that erupted in the wake of last week’s study tour to Israel by 15 high-flying young South Africans, has started to gain momentum.

The private information-gathering tour of future SA leaders to the Middle East, conducted by independently-funded SA Jewish group SAIF (SA Israel Forum), saw the delegates travelling in their personal capacities to Israel and Palestine last week.

SAIF logoNatan Pollack, national chairman of the SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS), joined SAIF Executive Director Dan Brotman to host the group.

The group was unique in that they were all young, black, youth leaders holding influential positions in ANC structures, or organisations supporting the ANC.

They included the niece of a senior government minister; two of the infamous “Wits-11” – removed from the Students Representative Council and censured for breaking up a concert by an Israeli-born German pianist last year. There were also high-ranking members of traditionally anti-Israeli organisations such as the SA Students Congress (Sasco); Wits SRC’s secretary general; and members of the ANC Youth League. 

Since news of their trip leaked ahead of departure, many of the young people have suffered severe intimidation on social media and by their organisations who have called several to attend disciplinary hearings.  

ANC’s Bapela went on the attack

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Obed Bapela, an avid supporter of BDS-SA, went on the attack against the delegates in weekend papers after the story had broken in Israeli daily Haaretz last week.

Bapela charged the students with bringing the ANC into “disrepute” and said that the party would “summon” them to an investigation. The SA Zionist Federation and SA Jewish Board of Deputies issued a media release on Tuesday where they took “the strongest exception” to Bapela’s uncalled for attack against the students.

In speaking with the delegates from the trip, Jewish Report found that they were by no means soft-on-Israel and many have returned still aiming to support pro-Palestinian causes. But all were clear that they could now do so with a better understanding of the situation on the ground.

SAIf ANC4One of the young, ANC-supporting future leaders, 24-year-old Nthabiseng Molefe, chairman of the Wits branch of Sasco, said she blamed BDS for the intimidation. “The ANC has nothing” class=”sfImageWrapper”>Wits dlamini Habib HOMEDlamini suggests bringing back “necklacing” – the practice of placing a burning tyre over the head of a “sell-out” – for those who went on the trip.

Mcebo “I Love Hitler” Dlamini 

“This was not a pro-Israel trip,” says Pollack, but one to expose young people to both sides of the Middle East story.

Pollack insists that delegates had gone in their private capacities and had a very full fact-finding programme. This had been no holiday.

The trip focused on how to bring Israeli innovation and its start-up culture to South Africa, “but we consistently encouraged them to question and challenge what they were being told”.

History in the making

This was an historical trip in that it was the first trip since SA attained democracy in 1994 that a top-level group of influential ANC members were taken by SA Jewry on a fact-finding tour of Israel and Palestine. In 1992, Howard Sackstein had led a similar trip.

SAUJS - 15 Natan Pollak

LEFT: SAUJS’ Natan Pollack

One of the young business leaders who attended, and who spoke to Jewish Report on condition of anonymity as he is concerned that that his business could be boycotted, said this week that he had been “stunned to see how democratic and successful Israel is”.

He said it was “fantastic to see the other side of the story that one never hears in SA”.

Pollack says that: “many of the participants were unaware of firing of rockets at Israeli towns by Gazans”. He said that their trip to Sderot had been an eye-opener to the delegates. So, too, had their trip to Bethlehem in the West Bank and their opportunity to listen to and interact with Palestinian activists.

Brotman  Dan homeMirroring the statement and concerns expressed by Sasco’s now-suspended Nthabiseng Molefe, Pollack says that “the bullying and intimidation (of delegates) is not an ANC tactic. SAUJS, says its chairman, believes that this has all been BDS driven.

RIGHT: SAIF’s Dan Brotman

“We know that the ANC is committed to giving people freedom of choice,” he insists, and that the intimidation is out of character for the ruling party.

“For us,” said  Pollack, it is quite frightful that BDS was prepared to spend so much money (to stop the delegation).”

Had BDS succeeded it would have cost them R640 000! “Is there something they are trying to hide?” he asks.

The ANC study tour followed a most successful effort several months ago during which SAIF took leading DA lawmakers on a similar trip.

In the footsteps of DA study tour

It was “not a propaganda trip, it was a study tour. It was about exposing the delegates to the reality on the ground,” said DA parliamentarian Zak Mbhele last week. “We met with different civil society activists in Israel, including a Jewish activist who supported the boycott against Israel.

There was never a sense of pro-Israel propaganda. If you are going to have a strong opinion on Israel, at least you should go there,” he said.

Mbhele had been “surprised by how diverse Israel is, in terms of race and culture”, he told Cape Town’s Saturday Argus.

“My opinion didn’t change much. There is a sympathy for the Palestinian cause, but at the same time I start getting very agitated when arguments start talking about Israel being illegitimate,” said Mbhele.

SAIF Director Dan Brotman told Haaretz that some of the participants, who will be future leaders in South Africa, were under enormous pressure not to come or received threats over being kicked out of their political parties.

Some of the participants, who told Haaretz they were in Israel in a personal capacity, said they supported the “boycott Israel” movement because they were getting one-sided information, according to Brotman, who stressed: “The goal is not to make them pro-Israel, but to expose them to a narrative they really don’t hear in South Africa.”

On Tuesday afternoon (July 14) Sasco’s national executive committee distributed a media release stating, among other trip-related information, that it had “decided to temporarily suspend all our members who participated in this propaganda trip to Israel pending disciplinary hearing.
“We do so because we view this trip as having tainted the name of our organisation and put it into disrepute. These members will be held before a Sasco National Disciplinary Committee and all structures are thus instructed to suspend their already initiated processes.”

Of course I’d go again!

Community-minded Nthabiseng Molefe was one of the delegates. She is (was, she is now temporarily suspended) chairman of the Wits Cosas branch.

What about all the social media intimidation? JR asked her. “I decided to ignore it,” says Nthabiseng. She has heard that she will be the subject of a disciplinary hearing next week, but she had not been personally informed by Tuesday morning. She was not aware under which structure it will be held and what the charges may be.

Had she been suspended? “There is a possibility of suspension, we don’t know.” She was later that same day told about the suspension.

Would you go again? “If I knew all this I would have still gone. People started intimidating me before I went,” she says. BDS offered to pay her R40 000 to cover her trip waiver costs and pressurised her not to go.

Nthabiseng told Jewish Report that she didn’t know who from BDS had made the offer to her. “They sent friends of mine to tell me,” she said.

Related reads on Jewish Report Online


 Nthabiseng blames BDS for all the intimidation. “I don’t think BDS should be advocating – making money

Nthabiseng echoes Pollack’s belief that the intimidation she is facing is not in character with the ANC as she knows it. “The ANC has nothing with this,” she insists. “Their name was dragged into this by BDS. All the intimidation has come from BDS.”

She says “the ANC didn’t delegate us, we all went in our personal capacities”.

Nthabiseng is a typical example of what a future ANC leader in SA looks like. She grew up in Qwaqwa, rural Free State and is currently completing her Bachelor of Law at Wits. She’s active in campus politics, having previously been elected deputy secretary (2012), treasurer (2013) and currently chairman of Sasco’s Wits branch.

She also served as the secretary of the Esselen Hall Residence and gives motivational talks at various high schools. She strives to be in leadership positions, as she feels it is the best way to better serve people.

When she finishes her LLB, she hopes to do her articles with the National Prosecuting Authority or Public Protector’s Office.

Social media is abuzz with threats

It is a worldwide phenomenon that social media users tend to feel free to post and publish whatever they want to say despite the fact that it may be considered illegal. Many of the following extracts from social media may well be construed as illegal posts by the original posters. Jewish Report, however, is publishing these comments in the public interest.

ONLINE EDITOR’S NOTE: Social media comments are posted verbatim and in their original form. The first interaction is the scariest by far – most of the others are simply ill-informed.

Mcebo Freedom Dlamini: I wonder who closed necklacing… I now understand why necklacing was necessary

Sandile Kheswa: They sold out as they were bought by the Zionists

Mcebo Freedom Dlamini: Knowing the zionist, we will hear everything these former comrades said there in israeli… zionist will make sure they are isolated… divide and conquer

Mcebo Freedom Dlamini: “as if going there was not enough… listen what these cowards say there in Israeli”

Mcebo Freedom Dlamini: “young leaders from the African National Congress….. really now”

Mcebo Freedom Dlamini: “I still can’t believe my eyes… someone please tell me this picture is deceiving me? At first I thought it was only Nthabiseng and Senzi who went to Israeli but I was wrong, very wrong… Justice Nkomo, yolanda, Klaas,Norman… all SASCO and Wits SRC, are in Israeli as we speak having fun… won’t talk about Harsha Even those who were charged as PYA 11 It must be nice neh” The PYA is the ANC-aligned Progressive Youth Alliance faction on the Wits SRC 

Lesley Ramutlwa asks: “Are your sources reliable?” Dlamini responds: “Pictures don’t lie… the zionist posted this pic on their website.”” class=”sfImageWrapper”>Saif ANC
The group in Israel

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  1. nat cheiman

    Jul 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    ‘If you care to read the social media comments carefully, you will note a standard of education (or lack thereof) which is so astounding that the commentators are almost illiterate. Almost like 20 year olds with a 10 year olds brain.This is the future. Remember the apartheid days when a traffic cop said \”Did you got a licence?\”or \”maram, it durrent matter. youse were draaiving too farst\”.  And yet these clever okes are at varsity.No wonder doctors are being sued for malpractice and most lawyers ( newly qualified) are lacking in knowledge and are enumerate, illiterate etc.

    SA is going to become a nation of halfwits. The above comments on social media could not even be ascribed to the ramblings of drunks and idiots, so nonsensical are they.’

  2. Myron Robinson

    Jul 17, 2015 at 8:52 am

    ‘So SASCO and the BDS are showing their true colours. Surely one goes to University to study & learn or is the audi alterem partem rule no longer applicable to BDS, SASCO & the ANC. So much for taking an informed view when all the above parties are interested in is anti Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda. So much for the future of our Country if students are stopped from making an informed independent opinion. Well done to the organisers of the tour.’

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‘Wake up!’ say doctors, as third wave ramps up



Communal experts this week issued a stern warning to “catch a wake up” as the community has been hard hit by death, severe illness, and an unprecedented number of infections which continue to rise daily during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is extremely severe,” warned Dr Richard Friedland, the chief executive of Netcare Group. “In Gauteng, we are in the eye of the storm, with things set to get a lot worse than they are.

“We should all be doing what we can to prevent a single death, to prevent people from having to be admitted to hospital,” he said.

The death rate has risen at hospitals, and hospital stays are about 20% longer, exacerbating the shortage of beds, especially in Gauteng, which is leading the uptick in infections.

“As I walk through our COVID-19 units, I see people struggling to breathe, fighting to survive this shocking pandemic. Every day, we are reminded of the pain, the suffering, and the enormous loss that it brings,” Friedland said.

Issuing a plea to the community to be hyper vigilant, he said, “I want to be abundantly clear that there can be no place for a lackadaisical approach.”

Several doctors this week told the SA Jewish Report that the situation was dire, with one doctor describing it as a “battlefield”.

“Patients, some quite young with no comorbidities, are really sick, with the vast majority on one form of ventilation or another,” said Dr Carron Zinman of Netcare Linksfield Hospital.

“Some severely ill patients are being temporarily managed in casualty because there are simply no intensive-care beds available at other hospitals,” she said.

“We are seeing a fairly young cohort, some with no underlying conditions, who are becoming seriously ill. The variants are more virulent and transmissible. We have had quite a lot of patients who have had COVID-19 before or who have received the vaccine, and got it.”

“We treat more aggressively, but there’s still no magic drug. We’re doing everything we can to turn the inflammatory response around. It takes some longer than others,” she said.

“Sadly, some people over 60 believe that once they have had the virus or the vaccine, they are safe. They aren’t. A lot of families including couples and their children are being infected,” she said.

At the time of going to print, Hatzolah had 501 active patients with 64 patients requiring oxygen at home. At least 11.7% of the active cases include children and young adults under the age of 20.

“There are a higher number of younger people including children than in the previous waves,” said Dr Anton Meyberg of Netcare Linksfield Hospital.

Sadly, the majority of patients are still the elderly over 60, but doctors have noticed a rise in the number of patients between the ages of 40 to 60, many requiring hospital admission.

There appears to be a disproportionately higher number of cases within the community, with doctors putting this down to complacency and carelessness about observing protocols.

“There is more testing, but people aren’t following the rules,” said Meyberg, “People who have been vaccinated are becoming lax, and there is a large asymptomatic spread of the virus.”

The country technically entered its third wave on Thursday, 10 June. According to the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, a new wave starts when the seven-day moving average of new infections surpasses 30% of the previous wave.

More than 70% of the new cases are now in Gauteng and the Western Cape, where there is evidence of a resurgence after a period of recovery, and there are daily increases in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

According to experts, the next two weeks will be particularly severe in Gauteng as the numbers steadily increase. Cape Town is a few weeks behind, they say.

Private-sector hospital admissions have increased four-fold since April. More than 500 patients are being admitted a day in the private sector in Gauteng, which is putting enormous strain on emergency departments fighting to open as many beds as possible to make space.

According to Hatzolah Chairperson Lance Abramson, there were 263 active cases at the peak of the first wave, 333 cases at the peak of the second wave, and now there are more than 500 active cases “with no peak in sight yet”.

“There are a staggering number of active cases in the Johannesburg Jewish community,” he said.

“Ambulances are transporting multiple COVID-19-positive patients to hospitals daily, where it is sometimes difficult to find a hospital bed. Patients are sometimes having to wait in ambulances in the parking lots of hospitals. This is very challenging for teams on the ground,” he said.

The organisation is also looking after 64 patients on home oxygen where they are closely monitored, Abramson said.

The organisation’s nurses are seeing between 80 to 100 patients a day.

Interestingly, Hatzolah has had 238 patients on the programme who have had a vaccine. Of those, 171 had received the first Pfizer vaccine, and 83 had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, two the AstraZeneca, and one Moderna. Thirty eight patients have been fully vaccinated and of those, only one required hospitalisation and has since recovered, he said.

According to Dr Ryan Noach, the chief executive of Discovery Health, globally, vaccinations have materially slowed the progression of new cases and deaths. There are early signs of reduced COVID-19 infection rates among the vaccinated pollution in South Africa post 15 days after vaccination.

“There are signs that the first dose is working, with early data showing that there are less admissions post vaccination and fewer deaths,” he said.

Worryingly, he said, “The data points to the potential for a very severe third wave, and we’re seeing the beginning of it only now.”

He said more than 50% of adults 70 years and older require admission to hospital.

“Hospital admissions in wave three have reached the level of admissions at the peak in wave one. There are currently 2 012 Discovery members admitted to hospital, of which 526 are in intensive-care, and 275 require ventilation.

“A large number of people are showing evidence of reinfections. Discovery members who contracted COVID-19 in the first wave have again contracted COVID-19 in the second wave. Three members have now tested positive three times,” Noach said.

On 13 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that two million Johnson & Johnson (J&J) doses would have to be destroyed because the United States regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, found that the main ingredient with which they were made wasn’t safe for consumption.

As a result, South Africa has no J&J doses to administer at present, setting the country back in its vaccine roll-out in the midst of a third wave. The good news is that, according to the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, J&J will replace all the doses within the next two weeks, with 300 000 due to land within a few days and another million to be released by Aspen’s Eastern Cape plant next week.

In the meantime, doctors have appealed to people to be hyper vigilant and maintain all non-pharmaceutical measures.

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Archbishop’s anti-Israel stance “endangering Anglican Church”



They have had a longstanding friendship and worked closely together, but when Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein saw Anglican Church Archbishop Dr Thabo Makgoba describe the situation in the Middle East as “evil” and place all the blame on Israel, he refused to stay silent.

In a hard-hitting open letter in the Sunday edition of City Press (6 June 2021), Goldstein told the archbishop that he was “making a terrible mistake that endangers your own church”. He explained that by supporting Hamas, “you are not only perpetuating the suffering of Palestinians and working against peace in this painful conflict, you are on the wrong side of history and in neglect of your most basic moral duty to protect the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which is your parish.

“For while you castigate Israel for defending itself against violent extremists, know that the very same violent religious ideology drives extremists right here on our borders, and their intended victims are your Christian congregations.”

This isn’t the first time the chief rabbi has commented on the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s (ACSA) sharp turn away from Israel. In 2019, he condemned its resolution to support “well-directed Boycott, Divestment, Sanction actions” against the Jewish state.

The letter to which the chief rabbi was referring was written by the archbishop to his constituents on 1 June 2021, titled “A pastoral letter on the tragic situation in Palestine and Israel”. Makgoba compared Israel’s policies to apartheid, and wrote among other points, “The current state of affairs is unjust and evil. We therefore call for an arms embargo to be placed on all fighting forces in the region, just as there was a United Nations arms embargo on South Africa. We also call for other pressure, including sanctions, to be imposed to bring all the parties around a conference table to negotiate a just peace. The current imbalance of power means that the Palestinians are suffering disproportionately.”

But the chief rabbi methodically explained why the accusation of apartheid was “a defamation of the Jewish state, disrespectful to the victims of apartheid, and a dangerous lie, which brings to mind the Christian blood libels against Jews in medieval Europe”. He explained how attempts to establish a Palestinian state have repeatedly been turned down by Palestinian leadership, and emphasised the genocidal essence of Hamas’s ideology.

“Over the past year alone, about 4 000 Christians in Africa have been killed by Islamist extremists – Islamists who share Hamas’s ideology. More than 4 000 churches have been burnt to the ground. Archbishop, these people were murdered because they are Christian. Where is your voice in defence of your own parishioners? Not only are you silent on this issue, you publicly support the allies of the perpetrators of these horrors,” Goldstein wrote.

The chief rabbi told the SA Jewish Report he felt it was urgent to speak out because “the militant extremism of Hamas is the real obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and it’s a threat to people around the world, including Christians, Jews, and moderate Muslims. Hamas wants the genocide of all Jews, just as other extremist groups want the conversion and murder of all Christians. This is a struggle for human dignity, decency, and moderation. Religious leaders have a crucial role to play in this fight for freedom.”

He says it’s even more urgent now because “violent extremists are wreaking havoc in Africa and globally. This includes those on our doorstep in Mozambique. I wanted to appeal to him, to other Christian and Muslim leaders to stand together in unity against the violent extremism that is encroaching, which is a threat to us all.

“It’s important to speak the truth and say it as I see it,” Goldstein says. “To accuse Israel of being ‘evil’ demands a response. Silence is acquiescence. How can we be silent in the face of these accusations, when we know they are false? It’s about speaking up in the name of truth and justice. It’s not about personalities or emotions. It’s the moral responsibility of any human being, especially a religious leader.”

Goldstein doesn’t think this debate will have an impact on his relationship with the archbishop.

“We have been friends and colleagues for many years. He was appointed the head of the Anglican Church in South Africa a year or so before I became chief rabbi. We had a lot in common, both being relatively young appointees at the time. We’ve worked together, marched together against state capture and corruption, and interacted on many forums. South Africa is blessed to have a very strong culture of interfaith co-operation. We meet and discuss, and I don’t see this as a breach of that. I see this as having a public debate. It was the same with my letter to the president [Cyril Ramaphosa], much of this has been discussed in private meetings, but I’m putting it out there because we are debating for the good of the country.”

It’s the same reason Goldstein called on the Muslim Judicial Council and Jamiatul Ulama South Africa “to join me in imploring our communities to be tolerant of each other’s vastly differing political and religious views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. This call, made at the end of May, was rejected by those organisations.

“We can have a different view, and we can all agree to disagree, but religious leaders need to show respect, peace, and tolerance,” Goldstein said. “If religious leaders don’t stand together, then these negative forces will divide us.”

The chief rabbi feels that by condemning Israel, “the archbishop is hurting the very people he is trying to help. Israel is a bastion of freedom and dignity in the Middle East for Christians, Muslims, and Jews to worship in freedom. By supporting Hamas, the archbishop is leaving the Palestinian people to suffer under the jackboot of violence and dictatorship. Hamas doesn’t believe in negotiation, so by supporting extremism, he is pushing the option of peace further away.”

Goldstein hopes that his letter “will provoke real debate within the Anglican Church. I have heard from Anglican rank and file members that they aren’t aligned with the views of the archbishop. In addition, millions of Christians who support Israel should be able to do so without being intimidated or threatened.”

He also hopes that this debate “will lead to a time for reflection for all religious leaders” and that they will continue to meet and keep the channels of communication open, as has been the case for many years.

“What I hope will be on the agenda for the interfaith movement is commitment across the board for religious leaders to preach tolerance, peace, human dignity, and to support forces in the world to do the same,” he says. “I hope all religious leaders will oppose in every way the violent extremism that is gaining ascendency, particularly in Africa. We can agree to disagree without denigrating each other. We must call out violent extremism with one voice. This is a wake-up call that we need to take a stand.”

Speaking to the SA Jewish Report on Wednesday, 9 June, the archbishop said, “Nothing in my letter suggests that I support violent attacks by one community on another or that I question the right of Israel to live in peace and security and that of the Palestinians to self-determination.”

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Biden’s daughter-in-law in SA for mom’s funeral



The daughter-in-law of United States President Joe Biden was on route to South Africa on Wednesday to attend her beloved mother’s funeral in Johannesburg.

Melissa Cohen-Biden, 34, who is married to the president’s son, Hunter Biden, was due to arrive in South Africa on Thursday morning, just hours before her mother, Zoe Cohen, was to be laid to rest.

Zoe, 72, passed away on Monday after a short illness.

Although Zoe was the machatenesta of the most powerful man in the Western world, she was a formidable woman of strength and inspiration in her own right.

The mother of four was a well-known and highly respected social worker for the Chevrah Kadisha for many years and had her own private practice where she specialised in adoptions and surrogacies.

Messages of support have continued to stream in on social media since her sudden passing. According to her legion of friends, Zoe touched the lives of countless people in her bid to marry babies and children with their forever homes, and helped hundreds of couples become parents.

According to her son, Garyn, a special place has been reserved for his mother at Westpark Cemetery to honour her lifetime achievements and contribution to the community.

Her friends this week said she was “a little woman with a big heart” who never had a bad word to say about anyone.

“My mother was a special angel who always put other people’s needs before her own. Even though she was small in stature, she was larger than life,” said Garyn.

He said Zoe insisted on fostering children at the family home every weekend. “We had children from Arcadia and the Princess Alice Adoption Home stay with us every weekend. We used to joke that my friends got confused between them and my real siblings. My mom felt it was important for these children to experience what it was like to be part of a family.”

She also adored animals, taking in strays and abandoned animals as well as the family’s own pets. ”Our house was sometimes called ‘Zoe’s Zoo’. This is where my sister Melissa got her love for animals,” said Garyn.

The Cohens adopted Melissa when she was three years old. “My parents had three boys and all of a sudden, there was a little sister. Melissa changed the dynamics and completed our home. We adored her from the minute she came into our lives,” he said.

Zoe was diagnosed with a brain tumour on 22 April. She had surgery 10 days later, and passed away within weeks from a host of complications.

A devastated Melissa visited her mother in Johannesburg while she recovered in hospital after surgery, and stayed for a week in the country with her father, Lee. She was accompanied by security guards wherever she went, and the visit was kept under wraps. She left South Africa with no idea that her mother would take a sudden turn for the worst.

“When Melissa was here, our mother was doing well. She couldn’t believe it when we called her to say that our mom was gone. They were very close. She is heartbroken.”

At the time of going to press, Melissa was on her way back to South Africa. The family waited for her to arrive before the funeral could take place on Thursday.

She left her baby, Beau, with Hunter in Los Angeles where the couple live.

Said Garyn, “Hunter would have loved to have joined her, but he stayed behind with Beau. He adored my mother. They got on very well from the moment they met. My parents visited Melissa and Hunter in America, and spent time with them there. Unfortunately, they didn’t get to meet Joe and Jill Biden at the time.”

Melissa’s brother, Dalan, and his wife, Amy, who live in Atlanta, joined the couple at the presidential inauguration. Their other brother, Joshua, lives in Canada and has yet to meet the Biden clan.

This will be the first time the four siblings will be together in a long time.

“It’s wonderful for us, but our mom will be missing,” said Garyn.

As tributes continue to pour in, clinical psychologist Mandy Rodrigues said Zoe was a “legend in the field of fertility”.

“Zoe has been a constant in all our lives in the field [of fertility]. How do you say goodbye to someone who has always been a wise, humble, and dedicated worker in the field you were passionate about? Someone who contributed so much time not only to making us more aware of adoption, but mentoring many of us. You always taught me to act within the confines of the law, no matter how many hearts were broken, and we shared so many cases over the years.

“I remember you as someone with integrity and so much wisdom and kindness. You always made the needs of babies and children in your care your number-one priority. Your name will always be linked to those of us you have blessed families with.”

The Cohen siblings and their father will sit shiva together at Garyn’s Johannesburg house, where, no doubt, they will reminisce about their colourful childhood.

According to the family, Zoe studied social work at the University of the Witwatersrand and worked at the Princess Alice Adoption Home for many years. She was in private practice for many years where apart from adoptions, she also did grief and trauma counselling. She often opened her home to women who had nowhere to turn, and placed thousands of abandoned children. She also worked with fertility clinics, and helped countless couples on the road to parenthood.

Due to COVID-19, the funeral will be restricted to 100 people, but it’s expected many will be turned away as her popularity knew no bounds, say her children.

She is survived by her loving husband of 50 years, Lee, children Dalan, Garyn, Joshua, and Melissa, and eight grandchildren.

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