Monday, June 7, 2021

Actress Shaleen-Surtie Richards found dead in a Cape Town guest house. She was 66.

by Thinus Ferreira

The acclaimed South African actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards has been found dead in a guest house in Cape Town on Monday morning, Netwerk24 reports. She was 66.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards was in Cape Town busy filming the kykNET telenovela Arendsvlei produced by Penguin Films.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards' cause of death is not yet known but her family in a statement through spokesperson Alistair Izobell, says that Shaleen "did not take her own life". Her family in a statement told TVwithThinus that Shaleen Surtie Richards "not only lived in our hearts but in the hearts of this great nation".

The beloved actress who was born in Upington in the Northern Cape is primarily remembered for her two biggest iconic roles like Fiela Komoetie in the film Fiela se Kind as well as that of Ester "Nenna" Willemse in Franx Marx's TV soap Egoli on M-Net (DStv 101) that she played for a stretch of 18 years.

She appeared in several other South African TV soaps including 7de Laan, Villa Rosa and SABC1's Generations and in 2001 she also hosted her own TV talk show, Shaleen, on M-Net.

She won a litany of awards including Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards for her role as Hester in Athol Fugard's Hallo en Koebaai and in 2009 for her role in Shirley Valentine.

Qualifying as a kindergarten teacher, Surtie-Richards taught in Upington and Cape Town between 1974 and 1984 during which she took many roles in several amateur stage productions between 1974 and 1981. She started her professional acting career in 1984.

Other TV roles included appearances in Galery, Ou Grote, Rugby MotorsBroken Vows, Die Uwe Pottie Potgieter, Fishy Feshuns, It's OK We're Family, and in Rockville as Judy.

In film Shaleen Surtie-Richards had roles in movies ranging from Nag van die 19de (1992) to Leon Schuster's Panic Mechanic (1996), Mama Jack (2005) in which she played the mayor, to Halfmanspunt (1986), Susanna van Biljon (2010), Jimmy in Pink (2013), Agent 2000: Die Laksman (2014), Knysna (2014), Treurgrond (2015), Twee Grade van Moord (2016), Funny Enough (2016), Droomdag (2017), Vaselinetjie (2017), Draadloos (2019) and in Showmax's recent Swirl: A Letter to Hair on the Cape Flats (2021). She's also appearing in Slay (2021) as Delilah.

On stage Shaleen Surtie-Richards' work stretched over more than 3 decades as she performed widely across South Africa and abroad appearing on the London stage and the Edinburgh Festival.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards work on stage ranged from The Comedy of Errors (Maynardville,1986) to Die Proponentjie (CAPAB, 1986), Kyk Hoe Hol Hulle (1986), Blomtyd is Bloeityd (1987), Romeo and Juliet (Maynardville, 1988), Aap in die Mou (CAPAB, 1988), Legends! (1988), Just Like Home (1989), Juno and the Pavcock (Baxter Theatre, 1990), Selle Ou Storie (1991), and the radio drama Kanna hy ko Hystoe in 1994.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards was also on stage in Buckingham Palace, District Six (2001), the pantomime RooiKoppitjie (2001), The Vagina Monologues (2002), As Ek Maar Geweet Het (2011), Rondomskrik (2014), A Christmas Carol (Baxter Theatre, 2013), and as Ma in Siener in die Suburbs at Aardklop in 2015.

UPDATE Monday 6 June 2021 12:22: M-Net, kykNET and MultiChoice's DStv in a joint statement says "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 the role of 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."

UPDATE: Tribute broadcasts:

The kykNET (DStv 144), kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) and M-Net (DStv 101) channels will all do tribute broadcasts to Shaleen Surtie-Richards and her screen legacy this week.

- Hannes aan Huis has already recorded and pre-scheduled before her untimely passing an interview with Shaleen Surtie-Richards before this week and it will be broadcast this week on 8 June at 21:00 on kykNET (DStv 144).

- On Wednesday 8 June KLOP! on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) will also do a special programme, remembering Shaleen Surtie-Richards.

-M-Net (DStv 101) will broadcast a special documentary about Shaleen Surtie-Richards this coming weekend, the broadcasting date and time must still be confirmed.

The film Fiela se Kind will be broadcast on Friday 11 June on fliekNET (DStv 149) at 20:00.