Fri, 17 Jul 2020

The death of Dr Thandi Ndlovu has been met with shock and sadness as tributes pour in for one of the country's leading businesswoman who died in a car crash.

The 65-year-old was involved in a collision on Saturday, the Motheo Group confirmed in a tweet.

A medical doctor by training, Ndlovu started the Motheo Construction Group - which included the Motheo Children's Foundation that grants scholarships for tertiary education - that became known as one of SA's largest black female-owned construction companies.

Ndlovu died in hospital after an accident while she was on her way to a funeral in Rustenburg in the North West province, reported Fin24 sister website City Press.

"The carnage on our roads has robbed us of an outstanding woman. Now we are forced to mourn, during a month where we should be celebrating her kind," said Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, adding that three other people also lost their lives in the crash.

The ANC said in statement: "To her (Ndlovu's) family, we say their loss is our loss."

It said the mother of six, who was born in Soweto, joined its military wing uMkhonto Wesizwe during the liberation struggle.

"At the height of the struggle for liberation she ranked amongst those who selflessly opted to swell the ranks of the ANC and its military wing uMkhonto Wesizwe."

It said she spent her free time caring for women stalwarts like Adelaide Tambo, Ruth Mompati and Rebecca Kotane.

"She remained committed to what the ANC and the mass democratic movement stood for to to the end. Her life achievements and commitment to change will serve as a constant reminder of her selfless contribution worth celebrating."

A mentor and trailblazer

On Sunday, the Businesswomen's Association of South Africa described Ndlovu as a mentor, trailblazer and formidable businesswoman.

It said Ndlovu, who was a former board member of the organisation, was an inspiration to many who had the privilege to know and work with her.

"A fearless business leader, social activist and a champion for the empowerment of women, amongst others, Dr. Ndlovu made a huge contribution to her community and the country.

"May the deep sense of loss from her sudden departure become a light that will heal and inspire many," the organisation said.

Black Business Council president Sandile Zungu told City Press Ndlovu made huge contributions in the advancement of not only black business interests, but of South Africa's business interests as a whole.

Ndlovu endeavoured to journey through life with compassion, dignity, humility and respect for all and as a pioneering businesswoman it is said that it was not unusual to see her in a hard hat and overalls on a construction site.

The Dr Thandi Ndlovu Children's Foundation website quotes Ndlovu's life missions as: "To live my life to the fullest, and experience each day as if it were my last, knowing that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it! To make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than I am! To touch each soul that I encounter as I journey through life with compassion, dignity, humility and respect, in the full knowledge that - irrespective of our circumstances - we are all made in the image of God."

Breaking ground

It was Ndlovu's medical practice at Orange Farm that saw her break ground in the construction industry. She ventured into developing low-income housing as a result of the health problems experienced by her patients who were living in shacks in the area.

"It was not an unusual sight to see this elegant, soft-spoken yet commanding woman in a hard hat and overalls on a construction site. She was always on the ground, personally directing that her work was of the highest quality," wrote MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works in KwaZulu-Natal Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni in a tribute published on IOL.

Ndlovu, in a column published on Fin24, wrote that the construction industry failed the youth of South Africa.

"Empowerment is about the development of knowledge, skills and the enablement of people to realise their abilities and full potential. From this perspective, the construction industry has failed South Africa's young people," she wrote in the 2013 column.

'We need to start nurturing the talent'

"Twenty years ago, all that black people knew to do was brick laying. Now we have thousands of young black graduate architects, surveyors, geo-technicians, quantity surveyors, designers, land surveyors and town planners."

However, Ndlovu noted these graduates were not being enabled to devise innovative solutions to address the socioeconomic challenges in the country.

"The industry continues to conform to conventional methods, exporting houses in urban areas to rural areas and not identifying alternative solutions of addressing issues on housing in rural areas and establishing what's best for the country," she wrote.

"If we are going to change the future of the construction industry landscape, we need to start nurturing the talent that the industry has now and position it as attractive for young people."

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