Crash victim’s life of giving

2012-01-25 00:00

AN ice cream with a visiting friend from Egypt and a chat with an old pupil — these were Alice Jogessar’s last minutes, before a runaway truck snuffed out her life at the Midlands Mall on Monday night.

The 69-year-old former teacher was a pillar in the Pietermaritzburg community and wore many coats: a mother, a humanitarian, a teacher, an estate agent, a people’s person and much more.

The last person to see Jogessar alive was Reen Mohammed, who was due to return to Egypt today, but postponed her departure to attend her friend’s funeral tomorrow.

The pair began their evening at the shopping mall on Monday night with dinner at the Coconut Gove.

Then they went to the Milky Lane for ice creams.

“She was just laughing and telling me stories,” Mohammed told The Witness yesterday.

“She was contacting clients as well.

“While we were having ice cream she came across a former student and they had a lengthy chat.”

Then, the two friends walked to the parking lot, where they saw the runaway truck and heard a loud noise.

“It was so loud I thought it was a thunderstorm.”

Jogessar didn’t have time to run away, Mohammed said.

“It was too fast and the truck took everything that was in its way.”

Mohammed said yesterday she was still “shocked but fine”.

Jogessar’s daughter, Yurisa Naidoo, an optometrist in Durban, returned to the mall yesterday with her aunt and Mohammed.

A mere 12 hours after her mother was killed, Naidoo sat at a coffee shop, and told The Witness: “I get all the strength from my mum. She was very strong.”

Naidoo (40) was at home in Durban when she received the terrible news. “I knew [when I was on the phone] that it was already too late,” she said. “I was shocked. I hyperventilated.”

Naidoo said her mother’s life was characterised by love, generosity and humour.

She also enjoyed travelling.

“I haven’t met anyone who didn’t love my mom. She put others before herself,” Naidoo said.

When Naidoo last saw her mother, last Wednesday, she was in high spirits.

“She was excited. All she spoke about was her dream car, which she was planning to buy.”

It would have been a Mercedes Benz.

“There’s nothing we can do to get her back,”said Naidoo.

“It was a freak accident and I’m just glad she didn’t suffer for long and that it was quick.

“I think it was orchestrated by God.”

Jogessar’s sister, Rosy, who lives in the city, said her sister loved and cared for people irrespective of their class.

Jogessar was a teacher at several schools in Pietermaritzburg, including Ramatha Road Primary, W.A. Lewitt Primary and Northlands Primary. After she retired in the early 1980s, she opened a créche.

A decade later she joined the board of the Indian Child Welfare Society.

When three local societies amalgamated in 1994, she was elected on to the board of management at the Child and Family Welfare Society of Pietermaritzburg

She served as its president for two three-year terms, until her death.

Julie Todd, director of Pietermaritzburg Child Welfare, said Jogessar was always concerned about the plight of others less fortunate and children had a special place in her heart.

“She strongly believed in a child’s right to education and actively engaged in the early pre-school education sector,” she said.

“We recall how she would sit on a hot Saturday afternoon blowing up balloons to hand out to local children.

“She was committed to the work of the society, supportive to the staff and fellow board members and was a staunch advocate of children’s rights,” said Todd.

The organisation said she was humble and never expected anything in return.

Director at Wakefield’s Estate Agents, Phil Brooker, said: “There are few people who you can say are beautiful inside and Jogessar was one of them.

“She had no enemies and was very dedicated and she’d give up her needs to assist other brokers.”

Jogessar’s other daughter, Yashmi, who is a doctor in the United Kingdom, flew to South Africa yesterday to attend her mom’s funeral.

The funeral will be held tomorrow at the Aryan Hall starting at 11 am.

Jogessar, who was widowed, also leaves a son, Yureev (35), who works in information technology.

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