Ndoni Mcunu, 33, got engaged more than a year ago and was looking forward to her big day – but that never happened after an accident cut short her young life.
Mcunu, a renowned environmental scientist and founder of Black Women in Science (BWIS), died on Saturday while on holiday in the Cradle of Humanity, west of Johannesburg. She was with friends at the time, her family said in a statement.
Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster, a family spokesman and close friend, said Mcunu’s family was devastated when they received a call from police about her death due to a gas leak at the residence where she and her friends lived. The family has suffered a great loss, she said.
Hlazo-Webster said Mcunu was planning to get married, adding that her sudden death was a blow to her fiancé. “Ndoni has recently become engaged and is already planning his life with Phelani Mthembu. This news is very sad for him and difficult at the same time.” “But what should you really do in this situation? He really comes one day are taking it at night,” Hlazo-Webster said.
She is a strong person and she believes in everything she sets out to do. Ndoni is a very determined woman who will stop at nothing to achieve what she stands for and believes in. Her drive and passion to contribute to greater causes in the world is what Hlazo-Webster admires most about Mcuni.
“She took it easy and, most importantly, she was very humble by nature. The way she was so humble was a shock to most people, who saw her from afar and didn’t realize how committed she was to what she did,” Hlazo-Webster said.
According to Mcunu’s LinkedIn profile, she is a climate scientist and social entrepreneur. “I’ve always been her sister”
She is part of the development team at the North-South Secretariat of the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), supported by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). She also has a PhD in Climate Change and Agriculture from the Wits Institute for Global Change.
One of her biggest achievements was being listed as one of the 50 most inspiring women in tech in South Africa in 2017 by the Dutch Embassy.