Remembering ‘one of the great men of the city’

2013-08-23 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG resident Nadasen (Thumba) Subbiah, who died last week after a short illness, has been hailed as a shining example of a civic-minded citizen.

Soobiah (75) spent his life doing voluntary work for the community. In his younger years, it was in the sporting arena. After he retired, he helped wherever he was needed. When he was not checking up on missing manhole covers or overgrown verges, he could be seen helping elderly residents at the local clinic or pension paypoint.

However, it is in local football circles that Subbiah’s name will remain a legend and his story is even recorded in the Msunduzi Museum. Subbiah was a founder member of the Pietermaritzburg and District Soccer Association (Padsa), a role that landed him in jail. Padsa today runs the largest amateur football competition in the country — the Easter Tournament. The organisation’s president Sunny Naidoo said when the community moved to Northdale there was nowhere for children to play; just the houses surrounded by a gumtree plantation. Padsa needed grounds and Subbiah, along with other founding members, Sergeant K.R. Pillay and A.C. Naicker, identified a spot where the current Northdale Stadium now stands. Subbiah and Naicker were chopping down trees and clearing the area to create a football ground, when they were arrested as the police believed they were stealing the trees.

Even after this matter was cleared up they continued physically digging, chopping and planting grass to give the community a sporting ground.

Naidoo said Subbiah will be missed at future Easter tournaments. For years he was in charge of ground control and had the difficult task of sorting out all the fixtures.

These were taxing tasks, but he did it on a voluntary basis with love and dedication.

Community stalwart the Reverend Paul Saul said that in his view Subbiah was one of the great men of the city.

ANC councillor Manilall Inderjit said Subbiah was an exceptional example of what it means to be an active citizen. “He cared deeply for Maritzburg and loved his neighbourhood in Northdale.

“He was responsible for many clean-up campaigns and would keep an eye out and report illegal dumping or when the grass needed cutting,” Inderjit said.

Pastor Rajin Subbiah said what struck him about his father was that he grew up in abject poverty, but once his life improved, he never turned his back on the poor.

“We lived in the poorest part of Northdale, known as nine and three village, because this was where the cheapest rents were paid — nine shillings and three pence.

“When I became a pastor there was pressure on me to move out of the area. My father urged me to stay. He said don’t use religion for status, let us renovate and build up our house here and let’s help improve this place,” Rajin said.

“His first job was as a street sweeper for the Maritzburg Corporation and he was always very proud of that job. He believed in the dignity of work and always made sure he provided for his family,” Rajin said.

Subbiah leaves his wife Sally, two children and six grandchildren.

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