South Africa mourns a legend

Her death comes with shock and inexplicable sadness, Dr Thandi Ndlovu died following an accident that occurred while she was on her way to a funeral in Rustenburg.


Her death comes with shock and inexplicable sadness, Dr Thandi Ndlovu died following an accident that occurred while she was on her way to a funeral in Rustenburg. Her timeless achievements serve as proof that women have massive potential to change the world.

She obtained academic excellence and participated in various student organisations, including the Student’s Christian Movement, of which she was a Founding Member. At the height of the Soweto Student’s Uprising in June 1976 she was serving as the Administrative Secretary of the Student’s Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Fort Hare.

Unfortunately, she was forced to abandon her Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree as a direct result of the oppression and harassment that came from Apartheid security. She solidified her courage by spending the next couple of years in training within the ranks of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the African National Congress (ANC) Military Wing.

In 1976 she was part of the contingent of MK cadres that were posted to Novo Catengue, a military training camp in the South of Angola. There she served within MK as a Senior Political Commissioner, who was in charge of running a Literacy and Education Programme, among the one thousand new MK recruits. She also served as a Commander. Despite not being medically trained at that point, she was appointed a Medical Officer, working under the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer responsible for overseeing the health needs of the soldiers.

She was then sent to the USSR in 1978 for further training. Upon completion, she was sent to the ANC headquarters in Lusaka in 1979 where she served the ANC in various capacities, including Administrative Secretary of the Women’s Section. In 1984 she enrolled with the University of Zambia, completing a BSc (Human Biology) and MBchB degrees.

Upon returning to South Africa after the un-banning of political movements and the return of exiles, she proved she was no stranger to hard-work as she interned at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, around that same time she was working at a train station in Vereeniging Gauteng.

She went on to run a private medical practice in Orange Farm, an informal settlement, South of Johannesburg for five years. Dr Thandi was the Sole Private Practitioner when she opened her private practice on Orange Farm.

Delivering medical services covering a population of over 200 000 people paved a way for her to break ground in the construction industry. As she ventured into developing low-income housing, this, after realising that health problems experienced by her patients were unfortunately coming from their poor living conditions.

She became one of the country’s leading business women through starting the Motheo Construction Group, her business would serve as a solution to her community. Ndlovu launched Motheo Construction in 1999. The company acquired a grade 9 certificate level from the Construction Industry Development Board. Later it became one of South Africa’s largest black-female owned construction companies. In a little over 16 years Motheo has built over 66 000 homes, and its impact has reached far and wide throughout South Africa.

Driven by the urge to constantly do more, she did not just fight the liberation struggle but was an active participant in the struggle to empower and secure South Africa’s future by investing in education. She achieved this through the Motheo Children’s Foundation that grants scholarships for tertiary education.

Described by many as loving, supportive, fearless and a constant motivator who believed nothing was impossible to overcome.

This outstanding woman dedicated her life towards advancing black business interests and the business interests of South Africa as a whole.

This is seen in a tweet, mourning her loss by the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa; “I mourn the devastating and sad loss of a most formidable pioneering and leading woman of the construction industry. I will miss her courageous spirit. Dr Thandi Ndlovu - may her soul rest in peace.”

Dr Thandi Ndlovu achieved much success, the most notable among her many accomplishments include: chairing the Wine and various other councils throughout South Africa. Her most recent accomplishments include summiting point Lenana, Mount Kenya, Base Camp Everest and Uhuru Peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Dr. Thandi is also the most recent (2013) winner of the Business Women of the Year Award, by the Business Women’s Association of South Africa. She received recognition as the Woman of Substance 2017 by the African Woman Chartered Accountants Association, she is the recipient of the Black Excellence Title, 2019 by Golf and Beyond and an avid golfer.

May this champion of gender empowerment, political activism and exceptional business woman go well. 

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