Mabele was born in Benoni, in the east of Johannesburg, South Africa. She completed her Diploma in Light Current Engineering at the Peninsula Technikon in 1994. Mabele also completed a diploma in Psychology at Intec College in 1996, and training as a sangoma in (needs date).
At her death, Mabele was the executive director of Positive Women's Network, an organisation she founded, and deputy chair of the Civil society Forum - South African National AIDS Council. Mabele was a founding member of the Treatment Action campaign. Mabele had been the president for the Society for Women and Aids in Africa.
Mabele first became aware of her HIV positive status in 1990. She has stated that she "looked for people she could share her anxiety with. But her search for a friend led her to hospital wards full of dying babies. It was during this time that she saw the need for a support group for women like her. In 1996, Mabele and five other women started the Positive Women's Network".3 PWN was started in 1996 "to provide a space for HIV positive women to address our economic, educational and health and to project our voices and demands for services, rights and respect.." 5.
As one of South Africa’s leading spokesperson and an advocate for people living with HIV and Aids, in 2004 Mabele carried the Olympic torch as part of an international torch relay for the 2004 Olympics in Greece.
Prudence was renowned for her work with women's HIV support groups. Colleague and friend Sisonke Msimang wrote of her: "Donors stopped funding support groups because they were no longer fashionable. But Pru knew the truth, which was that life for women happens in conversations, in the time it takes to sit with one another. Those groups were emotional life support for women who were in critical condition, whose lives had been shattered and whose hearts needed piecing together. Pru did that work. She visited so many grieving families. When lesbians were killed, Pru went. When another HIV-positive woman died, Pru was there. When a woman was murdered, Pru was at the front. Painted up, dolled up, voice ragged, breathing through her mouth, swearing and joking and sweating, she was there."
Mabele was a strong advocate for ending violence against women, and was a member of the One in Nine Campaign. One in Nine began in response to the rape trial of Jacob Zuma, who was at that time Deputy President. One in Nine is named for the fact that only One in Nine women in South Africa reports crime to the police, a stark piece of evidence as to how inaccessible and unwelcoming the police and judicial system in SA is.5
Mabele herself said: "I believe that the quality of women’s leadership is even more important than the numbers of women in leadership."5 Mabele was one of the founding members of the Bring Back Our Girls South Africa campaign.
Mabele also starred in a film called Sunshine Boutique.
Prudence Mabele died from pneumonia on 10th July 2017.
The family of Prudence Mabele announced her death saying: "It is with profound sorrow that the Mabale family announces the death of their daughter Prudence Nobantu Mabele. A leading advocate for people living with HIV & AIDS, a respected gender activist, and one of the first black women in South Africa to disclose her HIV status..."
Mabele was the recipient of many awards over the years due to her untiring work on health and human rights: ·Diva Africa and Icon Awards for Community and Social Involvement ·Women of Courage Award | SOS Children Villages ·Gauteng Premiers Women’s Award | Gauteng Provincial Government ·Recognition for Involvement in HIV/AIDS Activism | Out Magazine ·Felipa Award | International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission ·Workplace Response Recognition | ESKOM ·Excellence in writing | The AIDS Control and Prevention Project (AIDSCAP) ·Finalist | Woman of the Year | 1998 (Source: see References 4)
CURRENT POSITION(S) as of her death in 2017 (4) President | Society for Women and AIDS in Africa 2001 - present Social Development and Community Services Founder Member | Treatment Action Campaign 1998 - present Social Development and Community Services Coordinator | Positive Art 1997 - present Social Development and Community Services Founder and Executive Director | Positive Women’s Network Pretoria | 1996 - present Social Development and Community Services Founder Member | National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS 1994 - present Social Development and Community Services Chairperson and Founder Member | AIDS Consortium Social Development and Community Services Board Member | Centre for Development and Population Activities Social Development and Community Services Coordinator | Society for Women and AIDS in Africa Social Development and Community Services Positive Young Ambassadors of Hope | Commonwealth Sponsored Programme Social Development and Community Services Representative | South African National Aids Council Social Development and Community Services PREVIOUS POSITION(S) Consultant | Greater Involvement of People living with HIV/AIDS, United Nations Development Programme 1997 - 1997 Social Development and Community Services Consultant | Ministry of Health, Government of South Africa 1996 - 1996 Government, Public Administration and Defence.
1."Prudence Mabele, leading HIV activist, dies". www.enca.com. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
2. Msimang, Sisonke. "The Pied Piper of the broken-hearted: HIV activist Prudence Mabele". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
3. Remembering Prudence Mabele: The sangoma who lived for science. Ina Skosana. Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism ; 12 July 2017. http://bhekisisa.org/article/2013-11-29-00-the-sangoma-who-lives-for-science
4. Who's who in Southern Africa: The leading guide to everyone who is anyone. http://whoswho.co.za/prudence-mabele-6344
5. Prudence Nobantu Mabele - INDIVIDUAL AFRICAN FEMINISTS. African Feminist Forum. http://www.africanfeministforum.com/prudence-nobantu-mabele/