Cape Town - Heartfelt tributes have poured in for beloved legendary South African television and theatre actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards. She was found dead at a guest house in Cape Town on Monday morning.
Surtie-Richard, 66, had a history of battles with illnesses such as diabetes and heart problems.
An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of her death, family spokesperson and producer Alistair Izobell said.
"We have lost a sister, an aunt, a cousin and a niece. We are trying to process, come to terms with the news and to still our broken hearts. We understand that she was not only in our hearts but in the hearts of this great nation. We thank you for the love, support and respect as we prepare for her final curtain call," Izobell said on Monday.
Izobell quashed rumours that the TV personality had died by suicide.
Surtie-Richards was well known for her role as Nenna in the M-Net series Egoli, as well as for her character Mattie on Generations which is aired on SABC1.
She also starred as the mayoress in Leon Schuster’s Mama Jack.
The actress had reportedly bagged about 51 awards during a career spanning more than three decades since she started as a professional actress in 1984.
Tributes flooded social media from fellow actors, actresses, politicians and more who shared their memories of Surtie-Richards:
Great memories my friend #ShaleenSurtieRichards . From having you MC at the annual switching on of the festive lights to supporting local artists on the Love Jazz cruises. You always used every platform to motivate other artists. Your talent paved the way for so many performers. pic.twitter.com/llKE5BRSzU— Patricia de Lille (@PatriciaDeLille) June 7, 2021
Shaleen Surtie Richards was my Sub-B class teacher at Cecil Road Primary School in Salt River. Back then lived in Portland Road in SR. I have only fond memories of her. She often encouraged us to pursuit our dreams. May her Soul Rest In Peace.— 𝐙𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐎𝐦𝐚𝐫 (@ZaidOmar) June 7, 2021
I've known Shaleen for 30 years. And every single time we got together we laughed until we https://t.co/jph6wthjH4 was no different on her birthday 7May this year. She's going to cause absolute havoc up there. Especially if anyone asks her if they can "borrow" a cigarette ❤️🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/4EWtwLxaRj— Marc Lottering (@marclottering) June 7, 2021
It is with great sadness that we heard the news of the passing of one of our country’s biggest names in the acting industry: the legendary Shaleen Surtie-Richards. Read the statement by WC Min. Anroux Marais ➡️ https://t.co/jNk1cTqKbX— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) June 7, 2021
[📸: Gallo Images] #ShaleenSurtieRichards pic.twitter.com/Br5CB60ETb
RIP Auntie Shaleen Surtie-Richards 🥺💔 Met her in 2017 and it was one of the most delightful radio interviews I’ve ever been a part of. Her magic was undeniable. pic.twitter.com/WLtiycE5U6— Sibongile Mafu (@sboshmafu) June 7, 2021
It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of an incredible actor Sharlene Surtie Richards today. What a loss to her family and friends and much more to our industry and our country. May her soul rest in peace. RIP- Elder🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹— JohnKani (@JohnKani2) June 7, 2021
7 years ago, my first time performing on a BIG stage. I got to share it with Shaleen Surtie-Richards. She was such a joy! Always with a story, a joke, words or wisdom.— Yaaseen Barnes (@Ya_a_seen_Him) June 7, 2021
For many of us she was representation; a person on TV who looked and sounded like people we know. pic.twitter.com/mPVc0IVhdy
*NO WORDS* The Loss Of Another Legend #ShaleenSurtieRichards. You've Broken Down Barriers, Set Trends, Opened Doors. You've Struggled, Fought, Battled & All Of This With Class & Grace.— Emo Adams (@emoadams) June 7, 2021
You Are Our Family, You Are Our Hero, You Are Our Shirley Valentine...
Hoe sê mens Goodbye pic.twitter.com/QgJKsGqCMp
I am devastated to hear of the passing of Shaleen Surtie Richards AKA my Fiela of Fiela se Kind. Seeing her face on screen made me believe in the power of my own dreams. She was an icon who will always be the guardian angel of arts for all. #ShaleenSurtieRichards— Jo-Ann Strauss (@jo_annstrauss) June 7, 2021
During a radio interview three years ago on KFM 94.5, a day before her birthday, Surtie-Richards laughed as she discussed old age, finding work in South Africa and giving up smoking.
“I'm feeling great, but I must just tell everybody that ageing is not for sissies.I don’t feel 63. It’s just that my body feels 63 sometimes.
“This is South Africa, work is scarce. People always say if you don’t have work, you put on your best clothes and jewellery and you parade down the street, but I’m not like that, I don’t have time for s*** like that.
“Life is at the end of the day what you make of it,” Surtie-Richards said.
In an interview with etv News, Denise Newman said: "It's horrible what Covid's done to the industry but it's also horrible what the industry does to its artists. There's no protection (or royalties). That's what made the last part of Shaleen's life so tragic. She had to scramble and fight."
I spoke to Vinette Ebrahim a couple of months ago and she said the same thing. She said in any other country actors who work as much and are as established as them would not be struggling like this.— caryn welby-solomon (@carynwelbys) June 8, 2021
African News Agency (ANA)