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Science wonder woman mourned

According to the environmental scientist’s family, Mcunu, 33, died last Saturday while on vacation with friends in Krugersdorp. Picture: Supplied

According to the environmental scientist’s family, Mcunu, 33, died last Saturday while on vacation with friends in Krugersdorp. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 24, 2022

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Durban - THE family of Durban-based Black Women in Science founder, Ndoni Mcunu, has expressed their gratitude to everyone who had shown love and support during her memorial held at Sandton, Johannesburg, on Friday.

Mcunu, 33, an environmental scientist, died last Saturday while on vacation with friends in Krugersdorp.

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Family spokesperson, Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster said it had been a long week for the family, but they were amazed by the love and support that the nation has shown to them. “We are shattered and trying by all means to process the whole situation. However, the memorial service was incredible and has brought some sort of closure.

It showed us how Ndoni’s life impacted the masses,” she said.

She said Mcunu’s mother and her fiancé, Philani Mthembu, were still traumatised.

“Ndoni and Philani had just started a life together but this has been cut short. Both families had a strong relationship because of the love the two had shown to each other and that will be a strong sentiment that the families will carry in their hearts,” she added.

Earlier this week, Hlazo-Webster said in a statement that the police cited a gas leak at the accommodation venue as a probable cause of Mcunu’s death. “Krugersdorp police who notified the family of the death, cited a gas leak at the accommodation venue as the probable cause of death, pending the outcome of a post mortem and the conclusion of police investigation,” she said.

On Wednesday, the Cradle of Humankind also shared news of Mcunu’s death on their Facebook page, labelling her as one of the “fierce” and “brilliant light” human beings.

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“A remarkable climate scientist who ensured African voices were heard in our fight for a better future, a social activist and advocate for representation of black women in science globally. She will be deeply missed,” the post said.

Police confirmed the incident, saying an inquest docket had been opened for investigation at the Krugersdorp police station. Police spokesperson, Captain Mavela Masondo said two bodies were found at the camping site in Kromdraai, Krugersdorp area on Saturday just after 2pm.

“There was an open gas bottle connected to the heater inside the tent as well as alcohol. Medical assistance was summoned to the scene and certified them dead. “An inquest docket was opened for investigation to establish the cause of death,” he said.

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Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande said the country had not only lost a beacon of hope for the value of science in society, but an environmentalist who advocated for building capacity and networks for black women scientists and researchers in Africa. Mcunu’s funeral will take place in La Lucia, Durban, next week Saturday

SUNDAY TRIBUNE

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