“Samke was a humble person and worked well with people, she was a good listener, it is sad that she passed away and I am yet to accept it. We will miss her dearly,”” is how Thozi Mthiyane, a Coastal Links SA (CLSA) member in  KwaZulu Natal (KZN) remembers Samkelisiwe Mchunu, national deputy chairperson of CLSA who passed away on July 21.

Affectionately known as “Samke, Samkelisiwe joined CLSA in 2010 when Masifundise launched its National Footprint Programme in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal.

As a young comrade who always advanced the plight of small-scale fishers in KZN, Samke quickly took on the role of KZN provincial chairperson, and recently was elected onto the national executive committee of CLSA as its deputy chairperson.

At the age of 27, Samke passed away on July 21, due to a lung infection, and was laid to rest on July 26, where many community members and delegates from CLSA and Masifundise paid their tributes to honour a great leader, and to pay their last respects.

She was born in Nonoti in KZN, where she attended primary and high school.

Samke was well known and loved in her community.  At her funeral, people remembered her for her good singing, preaching, and for tutoring English to learners in her area.

Up to her last moments, Samke was still working hard for the rights of fisherfolk and the poor and marginalised in society.

It could be said of her that she died with her boots on, in the service of humanity, because, she fell ill early in June, on her way to the important Tenure Workshop presented by FAO, Masifundise, Coastal Links and other local and international organisations who fight for the rights of the poor. She could not make it to the workshop and was rushed to the hospital.

“I’ve known Samke for a number of years, she was so committed to helping fishers to get their fishing rights. Her love for the fishers was so great, her aim was to see fishers getting their fishing rights next year,” said Lindani Ngubane, Masifundise KZN field worker.

”Oh, she was a very good friend of mine, I will remember her as this lovely young lady who was able to write poems about the fisherfolk struggle,” said Ntombekhaya Jabavu, CLSA member in the Eastern Cape.

Samke was due to see a lung specialist so to remove an infected lung, but she succumbed to the infection.


“I called her just over two weeks ago to ask how she was doing, and she told me that she will be okay, even though she will have to go and see a specialist to get a lung transplant, but when I tried to call her two Tuesdays ago, her phone was picked up by someone else who told me that she had passed away, I felt terrible,” said Ngubane.

She leaves behind her two young children, her father, Mr. Mchunu and her mother, ‘mam Mthembu’, who will take care of her kids.

She was buried in KZN and her funeral was attended by community members including some KZN CLSA members.

As Masifundise and Coastal Links, we keep her family in our prayers and may her soul rest in peace.

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