World Diabetes Day: The South African celebrities who suffer from diabetes

World Diabetes Day: The South African celebrities who suffer from diabetes

The Diabetes SA Organisation states that there are approximately 2.5-million people with diabetes in South Africa, and more than 14-million in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Shaleen Surtie Richards
Shaleen Surtie Richards/ Facebook @Shaleen Surtie Richards

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. It can affect anyone, even infants and young people under the age of 30.

Type 2 diabetes is caused when not enough insulin is produced or the pancreas does not work properly. It mostly affects people over the age of 40. 

Diabetes symptoms:

People who suffer from diabetes might experience the following symptoms:

- Unusual thirst

- Frequent urination

- Unusual weight loss

- Extreme fatigue or lack of energy

- Blurred vision

- Tingling and numbness in the hands or feet.

- Frequent or recurring infections

- Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal

- Boils and itching skin.

Symptoms according to

Diabetes, when managed properly, is not life-threatening. 

Let us look at some of the SA celebrities suffering from the disease and how they are keeping it under control.

Shaleen Surtie Richards

The South African television, stage, and film actress suffers from type 2 diabetes.

She was diagnosed with diabetes in 2000. 

"Every time I get a headache or feel dizzy, I worry that this is it," she told Medi-Clinic's info hub. "But I’m lucky that I have a good support system and can talk myself out of stuff, like depression – things that I can control. If I do feel down, I let myself dwell on it, but I am usually fine the next day. I don’t need antidepressants and can’t allow depression to take over my life,” she added. 

Shaleen says to manage diabetes, she watches her diet. 

Tshepo Mosese

'Scandal' actor Tshepo ‘Howza’ Mosese has been living with diabetes for over ten years. 

The Kwaito star and actor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 20.

“I was shocked. I thought that this was a disease that only elderly people got…my father had Type 2…it became crystal clear that no one is immune to getting diabetes,” he said in an interview with 

On how he has been dealing with the disease - which he calls ‘silent killer’, Mosese says you first had to accept the condition.

“Is by accepting that you have the condition and knowing what you’re dealing with, then you’re able to act upon the strengths and weaknesses,” he added. 

Mosese is a diabetes ambassador and uses his music and talks around the country to raise awareness about the dangers of the condition. 

His tips for managing diabetes includes working out and controlling his sugar levels. 

“I try to make sure my sugar levels are pretty balanced so I don’t experience low blood sugar and inconvenience the production, but if my sugar is low, I prioritise myself first – the production company is very understanding as they knew from the start that I had diabetes,” he told

 “In my workout regime, I aim to do 20 minutes of cardio as it stimulates the body and helps with my sugar levels,” he added.

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Sophie Ndaba

Sophie Ndaba has suffered public shame because of her condition. Before coming out and stating that she suffers from diabetes, society made fun of her drastic weight loss and there were rumours that she was HIV positive and even that she died.

But the veteran actress addressed the rumours in an Instagram post.  

“I started my weight loss journey because I was obese, and it affected my health. I made a confident choice to start eating well and lose weight. Yes, it's been a year of healthy eating and I'm proud of where I am. I want to encourage those who are struggling with obesity and say don't worry what people think even if they will think you're dying. Being overweight landed me in hospital. I made my weight loss choice. I'm proud of it!" she wrote.  

She went on to explain how she has not allowed the disease to stop her from living.

“Living with Diabetes doesn't mean my life must stop. It means I will fight to live and encourage those who already are suffering from this deadly disease. Help others prevent it,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I’m an ambassador for those of us suffering from diabetes and those who are obese but too scared to fight. I will never hide for anyone,” she said.

Candy Mokwena 

Candy Mokwena, AKA Tsamandebele, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2011. 

“I collapsed at one of the popular malls while running errands. After seeing a doctor he suggested some few general medical tests and that’s when I was diagnosed” she told Channel 24.

“I stopped eating just about everything. Now, I watch what I eat and when do I need to eat. My portions are not as hectic as they used to be,” she added. 

For those suffering with the disease, Candy says it is important to watch your diet. 

“Do not feel despondent. With care, the diseases is manageable. If you’re are not feeling well, you must always visit your local health facilities. You must also remember you are what you eat”.

READ: How to better manage diabetes

Image courtesy of Facebook/ Shaleen Surtie Richards

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