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Veteran actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards has passed away. The 66-year-old was found dead in a guesthouse in Cape Town on Monday.

She was staying in the guesthouse while she was filming the Afrikaans series Arendsvlei in which she was currently playing.

Her family released a statement confirming her death.

"Today, the Surtie family has to confirm with great sadness and utter shock the passing of the legendary actress and much-loved TV personality Shaleen Surtie-Richards."

Rumours were doing the rounds that the beloved actress committed suicide. Her family addressed the rumours in the statement.

"It is common knowledge that she suffered from diabetes and heart problems. Her death might be related to this but the family awaits an autopsy as to the cause of death. All kinds of rumours are flying around as to the cause of death, which is why we would like to emphasise that Ms Surtie-Richards did not commit suicide."

Tributes have been pouring in for the actress, best known for her roles in local soap Egoli: Place of Gold and the Afrikaans movie Fiela Se Kind. Among those paying tribute was President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"We have lost a household performer whose distinctive energy, artistic versatility and humility touched generations of South Africans for more than three decades. On stage and screen, Shaleen Surtie-Richards held a mirror to our unjust past and gave us hope for our future as a nation. May her soul rest in peace."

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