It is with great sadness that we announce the untimely passing of Dr Precious Thembumuzi Mahlalela.

Dr Mahlalela, Research Coordinator of the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI) LTO-Ocean Integrated Facility, passed away on 28 November 2023 after a short battle with cancer.

Dr Precious Thembumuzi Mahlalela (1)

Dr Mahlalela joined NRF-SAEON (host of SAPRI) in May 2023 at the same time as successfully finishing off the corrections for her PhD in Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences thesis, entitled Variability and Trends in Rainy Season Characteristics of the Eastern Cape. She was due to graduate in December.

Upon joining the SAPRI team, she threw herself straight into the adventure, assisting with SEAmester and providing great support at sea. As soon as she was back on dry land she flew to China to learn about moorings. Although this was her first international trip, she approached it like the other challenges she has faced, with a calm and humble attitude, open to learning and new experiences. Upon her return, she insisted on accompanying the SEAON team on a science engagement roadshow in the Western Cape to inspire young minds. She continued to work with the same positive energy and gentle sense of humour that endeared her to everyone.

“In the short time she was with us at SAPRI she became part of our family. Taken from us far too soon, her light will continue to shine through the friendships she made, the individuals she worked with, and the souls she ignited with inspiration. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate. We have the watch now” Prof Juliet Hermes – SAPRI and SAEON Egagasini Manager. 

Dear Precious

Your warmth and gentle spirit shone so brightly that any room you walked into lit up with a soft glow. You were an angel on this earth who combined both a bubbly and calming presence and we will miss you more than any words can convey. We were so honoured to have worked with you. 

Go gently dearest Precious. With love, from the SAPRI team. 

The SAPRI team and SAEON Egagasini team will miss you dearly.

Our deepest condolences to Precious’s family, friends and everyone who had the privilege of meeting her. 

Obituary of Precious Mahlalela by Juliet Hermes, Tammy Morris, Anne Treasure, Errol Julies, Anche Louw, Abu Nguna, Rabia Mathakutha and Riesna R. Audh, 30 November 2023. 

© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits
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