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.”

Pic­ture: Doc­tor Ng­cobo

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.

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