Her bus-driver father, Phillip Makgalemele, was never sick until he was felled by the stroke that put him in intensive care for two weeks in December 2002. When he died, in January 2003, Kumalo was gutted. She refused to eat or get out of bed. It felt like the wall she could always lean on had been yanked from her.
The death of her mother, Beatrice, a former teacher, was also sudden. She was recovering from a heart attack and doing well, recuperating in Cape Town. During the recuperation period Kumalo would travel to Cape Town on alternate weekends to be with her.
Her mother was asthmatic and one day, three weeks before she was due to return home to Johannesburg, she was admitted to hospital to be put on a nebuliser to open up her chest. Upon arriving at the hospital, her mother was given three injections. She suffered three more heart attacks and died. It happened on one of the weekends that Kumalo wasn’t in Cape Town, and she didn’t get there in time.
The family believes the injections by the medical intern perforated Beatrice’s heart.
A year later, in 2007, Kumalo was expecting twins but suffered a miscarriage.
“My husband was incredible; he just took care of my hurt and my failing heart and my pain. He literally was one person who just made me get out of bed again, take a shower, brush my hair, brush my teeth. Everything was an effort,” she says.
Kumalo was in such emotional pain that it was suggested she go on medication. She says that her faith and her husband saved her.
“I have never been in such a dark place in my entire existence as when I lost my babies. I thought I was going to die. It hurt so deeply that there was no point in doing anything, I’d thrown in the towel and my faith saved me,” she says.
One of her reasons for writing her memoirs is to show her three children what a gift they are.
This is also the first time she is sharing pictures of her children with the public. She and Romeo made the decision years ago that their children would not be thrust into the spotlight because they did not choose to be born to public figures.