FRIENDS and family said their final goodbyes to Shaleen Surtie-Richards on Sunday, in Durbanville, where she received a special provincial funeral.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Michelle Surtie-de Bruyn said the family experienced South Africa’s love for her aunt in a way she would never be able to articulate.
“It (the love) 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,” she said.
Surtie-Richards, 66, died at a Cape Town guest house on Monday. 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 other TV shows, films and theatre productions.
Fondly speaking of her aunt, Surtie-de Bruyn said all her accolades made Surtie-Richards South Africa’s sister, aunty and cousin.
Surtie-Richards’ stories that brought to life the history of the generations before her would live on, her niece said, adding that she would tell her children about their “funny and fabulous” aunt who always stood in her truth.
“Today I understand, Shaleen Surtie-Richards wasn’t a star because of the characters that she portrayed. She was a star because of her ability to inspire character in others,” Surtie-de Bruyn said.
“To ignite a spark and encourage all of us to dig deep and find in the core of our being the flame that holds our magic and of you, truly embrace and celebrate who you are – you can be anything.”
A slide show of photos taken of her through the years and parts of her career were shown on the projectors as well as an Afrikaans poem written by poet Bernard Fielies to the actress.
Throughout the service, photos of the vibrant actress were played.
Police officers formed part of the funeral procession after the legendary stage and screen actress was granted a Category 2 Special Provincial Funeral by the Presidency.
Owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions, attendees were limited, but Surtie-Richards’ fans could pay their last respects by watching the procession on TV and YouTube.
Surtie-Richards was laid to rest at the Durbanville Memorial Park, in Cape Town.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the Western Cape Arts and Culture MEC, Anroux Marais, were at the memorial service.