Social media exploded with heartbreak following the news that renowned South African TV, film and theatre actress, Shaleen Surtie-Richards, has passed away at the age of 66. She was well known for her roles in the long-running soapie, Egoli and the 1988 film, Fiela se Kind.
“We mourn the loss of a legend of stage and screen, Shaleen Surtie-Richards (66). She will forever be remembered for iconic roles like Nenna in Egoli. She conquered hearts across the country with her Fleur du Cap-winning performance as Shirley Valentine,” said M-Net in a statement.
According to News24, the Veteran actress was in Cape Town to shoot episodes of the kykNET&Kie telenovela, Arendsvlei. Someone went searching for Surtie-Richards when she didn’t show up to work on Monday. She was last seen alive late on Sunday night, June 6, when she went to her room.
Actor and TV presenter, Hannes van Wyk, said that he couldn’t believe the awful news and that he’d seen her just a few days ago.
The circumstances surrounding her death are yet to be clarified, however, it is alleged that the actress was suffering with bad health. Surtie-Richards had a stroke in 2012 and had also been diagnosed with diabetes.
“None of us know exactly what happened. I understand she was still fine yesterday. They’d rehearsed all day and no one suspected anything was amiss,” said Shaun Mynhardt, founder of the South African Legends Museum.
Mynhardt said that it could be possible that Surtie-Richards suffered a stroke, however an autopsy has yet to be conducted to determine the actual cause of death.
“Her death is tragic and a huge loss for the arts world. You kind of wonder if there wasn’t something you could’ve done. But there wasn’t. No one could’ve guessed she wouldn’t wake up,” said Mynhardt to News24.
Meanwhile, M-Net and kykNET have promptly scheduled a TV tribute for Shaleen Surtie-Richards that will span over an entire week. It will include an as-yet-untitled documentary on M-Net and a viewing of her iconic Fiela se Kind film this coming weekend.
In a joint statement, M-Net, kykNET and MultiChoice’s DStv have said:
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the news that Shaleen Surtie Richards (66) has passed away. We mourn the loss of a legend of stage and screen. She will forever be remembered for iconic roles like Nenna in Egoli and Fiela Komoetie in Fiela se Kind. Surtie-Richards also conquered hearts across the country with her Fleur du Cap-winning performance as Shirley Valentine.
“With her role as Fiela in the final years of Apartheid, Surtie-Richards started to bridge the racial divide between Afrikaans speakers from various backgrounds. She was loved by all. Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.”