Cape Town - Family, friends and loved ones of Shaleen Surtie-Richards, paid their final respects to the revered actress at a special provincial funeral in Durbanville.
Artists from across the country and several dignitaries were in attendance to honour and celebrate her colourful life and work which spanned over four decades.
Last Monday, the 66-year-old actress died at a Cape Town guest house. Her special provincial funeral was held at the Durbanville Memorial Park, yesterday.
Surtie-Richards was born in Upington and raised in Cape Town. She is best known for her roles in ‘Egoli: Place of Gold’ and ‘Fiela Se kind’, among others and a string of theatre productions.
Alistair Izobell, MC and family spokesperson, said: “Today is one of those days where we not only reflect, remember but celebrate someone’s footprint that will not be dissolved on this planet or in our hearts.
“In every space that she entered, we do know that Shaleen made a difference and that’s not just lip service. That is what we encountered by virtue of this incredible, effervescent, wonderful human being with a spirit filled with love, joy and particularly wanting to make a difference.”
Brother, Lionel Surtie said: “Somebody once said, at night time, every homely chicken comes home to roost. And in the passing on of Shaleen, I see a homely chicken that came home to roost in the shadows of old Table Mountain.”
Niece Michelle Surtie-de Bruyn said, “As a family, we’ve experienced this nation’s love for aunty Shaleen in a way I will never be able to articulate. It kept our broken hearts together. We knew aunty Shaleen was famous, but this week we realised that she was loved way beyond our small gene pool.”
Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said: “Shaleen was also a teacher who taught us to preserve, to persevere, to dream and re-dream and to make our dreams come true, irrespective of who we are and where we come from. She instilled pride and served as inspiration.”
Minister Patricia de Lille, who was unable to physically attend the funeral due to her Covid-19 diagnosis, had her moving tribute to Surtie-Richards read out by a close friend.
She thanked the family for sharing the icon with the rest of South Africa.
“Shaleen, as we know her, was a no-nonsense, no-pretenses person. With her what saw is what you get. Her brutal honesty and openness is what attracted me to her because I saw a lot of myself in her.
“She was always there to build a person up. Any chance Shaleen had to encourage young artists, she would do so and she would let them know that they are worthy...”
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
“She was a vanguard who paved the way before and after apartheid for people of all races, but specifically for people of colour.
“It is indeed sad that her death had laid bare the struggles of South African artists and the struggles that they have to endure later in life,” De Lille’s speech read.
“For the industry, Shaleen’s death and struggles in recent years should be a wake-up call to stand up. To protect the arts, our artists, to ensure all artists and talent’s rights are protected, respected and that they are all well-taken care of in their later life and before and after retirement.”
De Lille added: ”She was everyone’s friend, everyone’s aunty and everyone’s sister. Shaleen, my friend, I will miss you.”
Videos: Armand Hough/African News Agency