Sad goodbye to ‘champion of poor’
FRIENDS, family and high profile politicians lined the Tongaat Town Hall on Monday to bid a sad farewell to the late Shamla Naidoo, wife of Struggle stalwart Siva Naidoo, head of communications for the KZN Liquor Board.
The 54-year-old mother of two, who was employed at a Durban law firm, was found hanged at her home in Watsonia, oThongathi, on Saturday afternoon.
Reasons behind her death are unknown.
She was known for her “positive energy, her open heart and passion”, and her sudden death came as a shock to many, including her sister, who offered an emotional tribute at the funeral.
Reena Chetty said it was with a heavy heart and much confusion that she had to say goodbye to her younger sister. Chetty spoke about Shamla and Siva’s love which blossomed after meeting on a train.
“Theirs was a happy union which gave rise to two children, Ivana and Sainesh. She was very proud of her children’s academic achievements and career choices.”
Chetty said she joined Siva in his campaign for change.
“But Siva, on the other hand, spoilt her. She was the queen of the castle. He spoilt her with his cooking, his generous gifts and we all know about Shamla’s tastes.
“Shamla and Siva travelled together to many local and international destinations.”
Chetty also mentioned how supportive Shamla was to her family, saying they were in a state of shock. “We have asked why, why and why? “There are only questions and no answers. Only God knows his perfect and divine plan for us. Go well, my baby sister, just as we protected you then, I wish we could have done so now.”
Family spokesperson Kiru Naidoo said the couple had been activists in the political, social, religious and welfare movements for four decades.
“Shamla was one of the most visible and energetic people in Tongaat. There is hardly a campaign or organisation that she was not involved in. Her passing leaves a real void in both her family and the community.”
He read out tributes from several organisations Shamla was involved in, including the Active Citizens Movement, the Tongaat South Women’s Forum, the Tongaat South Vishnu Temple, the Sandfields SS Temple and the Nelson Mandela Chatsworth Youth Centre.
Some of the dignitaries who attended the funeral were Swaminathan Gounden, Ela Gandhi, Joe Paahla, Public Works MEC Ravi Pillay, Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi, the former eThekwini speaker Logie Naidoo and former presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj.
Paying tribute, Maharaj said: “She and Siva shared a life that placed them in the centre of the community. Their home was welcome to all.
“Shamla cut her teeth in activism and developed her commitment in the ’80s, a time when many people were detained without trial. She chose to marry Siva shortly after he was detained. It showed commitment to not only their love but commitment to her country.”
Thusi said Shamla was a champion of the poor and the vulnerable.
“She was always alert to the plight of others. That is a powerful legacy.
The MEC added: “Comrade Shamla was a bright light, a spirit of courage, strength and good humour that radiated through her constant smile.
“Her sunny disposition was always on view, at political meetings, social gatherings or religious services.”
Friends, family and high profile politicians at Shamla Naidoo’s funeral in Tongaat Town Hall.
Struggle stalwart Siva Naidoo and his late wife, Shamla, in happier times.