Final curtain for Egoli star

Johannesburg - Veteran actress Hannah Botha turned 84 in January, but until the end of March she was still a regular on the set of the long-running soapie, Egoli - Place of Gold.

One of the most-loved characters in Egoli, Hannah died in Johannesburg on Monday morning.

Hannah played the role of feisty Elsa Pienaar and she regularly topped the poll when the Egoli producers tested the popularity of the soapie's characters.

She was supposed to have been in three scenes last week, but she told the producers she wasn't feeling well and they'd have to shoot them later.

When admitted to hospital at the weekend, she was found to have high blood-sugar levels and a bit of rheumatism in her hands, but was declared otherwise fit.

Developed breathing problems

After being admitted for tests at Garden City Clinic in Johannesburg, her stomach began to swell.

Barely an hour before she died she had told nursing staff she was fine and spoke to them for a long time.

Shortly afterwards she developed breathing problems and died about 10:00, possibly from heart failure.

Burgert Muller, co-producer of Egoli said Hannah's death was deeply felt by everyone involved with the show.

She had particularly close ties to Shaleen Surtie-Richards (Nenna Willemse) and Christine Basson (Nora Naudé).

"The very last Egoli episode featuring Hannah will be broadcast within weeks. We plan to dedicate the episode to her memory," said Muller.

Basson said "We weren't just colleagues, we were close friends."

An upset Surtie-Richards told Beeld newspaper her heart was sore.

"I will miss her like a piece of bread. Through your pages, I want to say to her 'rest in peace, my old sister'."

Worked for the taxman

Egoli producer Franz Marx said Hannah was one of the last veterans of the stage, and her death would leave it the poorer. She was involved with Egoli for 15 years.

Hannah's day job for 40 years was at the Receiver of Revenue office in Johannesburg and she began to take acting more seriously after her retirement in 1988.

She tackled scores of TV productions, but will probably be best remembered for Egoli and the movie, Agter Elke Man.

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