The late Zoleka Mandela's relationship with her ex-husband Thierry Bashala

The late Zoleka Mandela's relationship with her ex-husband Thierry Bashala

The love story of the late Zoleka Mandela (Nelson Mandela's granddaughter) and her ex-husband, Thierry Bashala, is worth reading. Though they separated after eight years of marriage, many acknowledged their relationship was unique. This article centers on Thierry Bashala's biography and his marriage to Zoleka Mandela.

Thierry Bashala's former wife
Thierry Bashala and the late Zoleka Mandela. Photo: @thierrybashala, @zolekamandela (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Besides being known as Nelson Mandela's granddaughter, Zoleka was an established author, philanthropist, and activist. She wrote about her battle with cancer of the mammary glands, her daughter's death, and her addictions to alcohol, sex, and drugs in her book, When Hope Whispers, in 2013. Read on to find out more about her relationship with Thierry Bashala.

Profile summary

Full nameThierry Nkola Mulopu Bashala
Date of birth11th July 1983
Zodiac signCancer
Age40 years (as of January 2024)
Place of birthKinshasa, Congo
ResidenceJohannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Former spouseZoleka Mandela (late)
SonZanyiwe Zenziwe
DaughterZenzile Motuba Bashala
Alma materThe University of South Africa (UNISA)
QualificationBachelor of Commerce (finance and accounting)
CareerBusinessman and social activist

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Who is Zoleka Mandela's ex-husband?

Thierry Nkola Mulopu Bashala is the former husband of Nelson Mandela's granddaughter, Zoleka Mandela. He is a South African-based Congolese businessman and a social activist.

On the other hand, Zoleka Zobuhle Mandela was a South African writer, activist, and philanthropist. She was born on 9th April 1980 in South Africa to Zindzi Mandela (mother) and Zwelibanzi Hlongwane (father). May knew Zoleka as the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Zoleka Mandela's ex-husband, Thierry Bashala
Thierry Bashala in a suit and casual-official attire. Photo: @thierrybashala (modified by author)
Source: UGC

What is Thierry Bashala's age?

The South African-based businessman is 40 as of January 2024. He was born on 11th July 1983 in Kinshasa, Congo.

Family and educational background

Thierry grew up in a large family of six siblings and attended primary and secondary school in Kinshasa, Congo. Afterward, he moved to South Africa to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce (finance and accounting) at The University of South Africa (UNISA).

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Bashala graduated from UNISA in 2007 and later obtained various professional certifications, including Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) while building his career.


Thierry Bashala's career began at the Sanlam Investment Company, where he worked for four years. After obtaining experience in financial analysis, planning, and reporting, he left Sanlam in 2011 to pursue an entrepreneurship path.

Thierry Bashala's age
Thierry Bashala sitting on glass and plastic stools. Photo: @thierrybashala (modified by author)
Source: UGC

In 2013, Bashala and his then-wife, Zoleka Mandela, co-founded the Zoleka Mandela Foundation to create public awareness about cancer, road safety, women, and youth-related issues.

Zoleka served as the foundation's director from its inception until she passed away on 25th September 2023. Meanwhile, Thierry was the CEO until 2020, when he stepped down due to their divorce.

He is currently an executive director at the Brand Propeller digital marketing agency and the director of the Zanyiwe Group. The Zanyiwe Group runs various real estate, fashion, entertainment, media, and hospitality businesses.

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How did Zoleka Mandela meet Thierry Bashala?

The two met at a clothing store while shopping in 2012, two months before she was diagnosed with cancer for the first time. The couple dated for two years before officiating their relationship in 2014.

Zoleka Mandela's ex-husband
The late Zoleka Mandela wearing dresses. Photo: @zolekamandela (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Graça Machel (the widow of the first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela) and Thabo Mbeki (the second black president of South Africa) were some of the prominent figures who attended their lavish wedding.

Was Zoleka only married once?

It is unclear whether Zoleka Mandela had been married before she tied the knot with Thierry Bashala. The public only knows she had three children from her previous relationships when Thierry Bashala married her in 2014.

Thierry Bashala and Zoleka Mandela's marriage

The Congolese businessman was a supportive partner even before he married Nelson Mandela's granddaughter. For instance, he provided Zoleka with emotional support when her daughter, Zenani Mandela (born in 1997), died in a car crash in 2010, and her son, Zenawe Zibuyile Mandela, died shortly after birth in 2011.

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Zoleka Mandela's daughter was on her way back from a concert that marked the opening of the soccer World Cup in South Africa when she met the tragic road accident that claimed her life.

Zoleka Mandela's her ex-husband
Thierry Bashala in blue suits. Photo: @thierrybashala (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The couple had two children: son Zanyiwe Zenziwe (born in 2014) and daughter Zenzile Motuba Bashala (born in 2019). As a supportive husband, Thierry became a father figure to her son, Zwelami Mandela (born in 2003). He is Zoleka's only surviving child from her previous relationships.

In addition to that, Zoleka Mandela's husband helped her overcome her addictions and was by her side while battling cancer.

The lady wrote and often spoke about her sexual abuse experiences growing up. She would also share about her addiction to substances and alcohol and a failed suicide attempt in adulthood.

What happened to Zoleka Mandela's son?

While alcohol and substance abuse negatively affected Zoleka's parenting, cancer made her lose her son, Zenawe Zibuyile Mandela, in 2011. He was born prematurely because of the double mastectomy and chemotherapy she was undergoing.

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Zoleka Mandela's ex-husband
The late Zoleka Mandela wearing blue and white attire. Photo: @zolekamandela (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Thierry helped Zoleka overcome her grief, especially when she tried to take her life after Zenawe's death. She recovered from cancer for a while before the disease recurred in 2016. Four years later, Zoleka and her husband amicably annulled their marriage in 2020.

What happened between Zoleka Mandela and Thierry Bashala?

Zoleka announced her separation from her husband, Thierry Bashala, in March 2020 via Instagram, stating that the relationship no longer "served her." Part of her post read:

Leaving someone you once loved, for eight long years feels like it completely unhinges your entire life until you realize that it’s sparked self discovery, inner peace and has set you on a path of self love. It’s taken me two years to leave a relationship that no longer serves me, one that has eroded (for far too many years) my self esteem, independence, my mental and emotional state...

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Who is the father of Zoleka Mandela's last child?

In 2021, she introduced Andile Leeroy Cana to the public as her boyfriend and later announced they were expecting a child together in January 2022. Nevertheless, the two separated before Zoleka gave birth to their child, Zingce Zobuhle Mandela, on 8th April 2022.

Zoleka Mandela's former husband
The late Zoleka Mandela wearing a blue sweater and denim jacket. Photo: @zolekamandela (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Cancer began to spread to the rest of Zoleka's organs in 2016, and by 2022, it had affected the hip area, the liver, the lungs, the pelvis, the brain, and the spinal cord.

The 43-year-old was admitted to hospital for treatment. She passed away on Monday evening, September 25th, 2023, surrounded by friends and family. In the months leading to her death, Zoleka drafted her will and planned her memorial and funeral service, which included a list of prominent family members excluded from attending.

However, she was not buried at Fourways Memorial Park in Johannesburg alongside her mother, grandmother, and children as she had requested.

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Her aunt Zenani Mandela-Dlamini arrived with the police to enforce a court interdict to have the body buried elsewhere at a gravesite allegedly purchased by her ex-husband, Thierry Bashala, which he denied.

Zoleka Mandela's baby daddy, Andile Leeroy Cana - the father of her sixth and last child - respected her dying wish not to attend her funeral. Instead, he mourned her privately.

Thierry Bashala's ex-wife
The late Zoleka Mandela wearing Ankara outfits. Photo: @zolekamandela (modified by author)
Source: UGC

What is Thierry Bashala's net worth?

Sources guesstimate Thierry Bashala's net worth ranges between $1 million and $5 million. Meanwhile, his late wife, Zoleka Mandela, is guesstimated to have been worth around $5 million.

Is Thierry Bashala on Instagram?

The late Zoleka Mandela's ex-husband has an active Instagram account, @thierrybashala, and an active Facebook page, @thierry.bashala.

Facts about Thierry Bashala

  • Bashala kept a close relationship with Zoleka's three children after their divorce in 2020.
  • He also had a close relationship with her family, including Zoleka's mum, Zindzi Mandela, who died in 2020.
  • Bashala is still a director at the Zoleka Mandela Foundation and actively participates in most of its projects.

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Many admired Thierry Bashala and Zoleka Mandela's marriage and were shocked when she announced their separation. The two always looked happy together in public and were considered a perfect couple by most of their fans. published the biography of Myles O'Neal, an American TV personality, DJ, and entertainer. Besides that, Myles is famous for being the son of retired NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal.

Unlike his siblings, who followed in their father's basketball footsteps, Myles chose to create a different career path for himself. He has become a millionaire by doing what he loves.

Source: Briefly News

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