Sheila Cussons dies

2004-11-26 12:04

Cape Town - Celebrated poet Sheila Cussons died at the age of 82 on Thursday night.

"She died at 19:20 in the Catholic institution, Nazareth House, in Vredehoek," her friend, journalist Amanda Botha, said.

Cussons has lived there for the past ten years.

Botha said Cussons, who was also known as an artist, became very weak over the past year and was wheelchair bound since February.

Apart from Botha and the nursing staff, Cussons's eldest son, Jordi Saladrigas-Cussons, 46, from Barcelona was at her side when she died.

Her other son, Juame, 44, had to return to Barcelona last week after spending a month in Cape Town.

Funeral arrangements were not available on Thursday night. Botha said Cussons told her how she wanted her funeral and she would try her best to comply with her friend's requests.

"It was a privilege for me to support her and to be with her.

"My life was enriched by her presence," she added.

Cussons studied fine arts at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg with DJ Opperman as her mentor.

She then left for Amsterdam with her first husband, literary critic CJM Nienaber.

After their divorce, she married Spanish businessman Joan de Saladrigas.

They settled in Barcelona and Cussons converted to the Roman Catholic faith.

After living in Barcelona for 21 years, Cussons returned to Cape Town alone where she had been living for the past 25 years. Although the couple lived apart, they had a good relationship and De Saladrigas visited Cussons in August, Botha said.

Cussons published ten volumes of poetry over the past 33 years.

She was awarded the Herzog prize and twice won the WA Hofmeyr prize. She was also awarded the Ingrid Jonker, Eugene Marais and the CNA prizes.

Two years ago, the University of Stellenbosch honoured her with a retrospective exhibition. - Die Burger