Mpho Mathibela, one of the Siamese twins separated in an operation six months earlier, leaves hospital for the first time


Mpho and Mphonyana before the operationMpho and Mphonyana before the operation. Source:

Wednesday, 9 November 1988

Mpho and Mphonyana Mathibela made headlines when they were born conjoined at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on 7 December 1986.The twin girls were joined at the head and a decision was made for them to be separated. They were separated in 1988. Mpho proved to be the stronger twin after the surgery, which led to her having to leave her weaker sister, Mphonyana, behind.

Having been more afflicted after the surgery than her sister, Mphonyana died of pneumonia a year after they were separated. Mpho, now in her 20’s, is a healthy and happy young woman. However, she still wishes her sister had lived so they could have grown up together.  


  1. M&G online (October 30 2007) ‘Surviving Mathibela twin meets Madiba’ from Mail&Guardian online [online]. Available at [Accessed on 12 October 2011]
  2. Molefe, A (September 10 2007). ‘Mpho celebrates her 21st  on December 7’ from Sowetan Live [online]. Available at [Accessed on 12 October 2011]




Last updated : 04-Nov-2011

This article was produced by South African History Online on 02-Nov-2011

Support South African History Online

Dear friends of SAHO

South African History Online (SAHO) needs your support.

SAHO is one of the most visited websites in South Africa with over 6 million unique users a year. Our goal is to fulfill our mandate and continue to build, and make accessible, a new people’s history of South Africa and Africa.

Please help us deliver this by contributing upwards of $1.00 a month for the next 12 months.

Make a donation here and send us a message of support.