Enterprising, controversial

2017-05-15 13:45
Sunny Gayadin was found dead at the Victoria Country Club estate on Friday night.

Sunny Gayadin was found dead at the Victoria Country Club estate on Friday night. (Shan Pillay)

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Hundreds of shocked mourners packed into the Gujerati Vedic Society Hall in Mountain Rise where the funeral for Pietermaritzburg mogul Sunny Gayadin was held on Saturday.

Gayadin (69) was found dead on Friday night lying in an open plot of land that he was developing at the Victoria Country Club. His 9 mm pistol was found next to him.

Fellow business owners, politicians and journalists were among Gayadin’s family and friends at his funeral.

Emotional scenes played out as people from around the province paid their respects to Gayadin.

Some wept quietly as they approached his open coffin to say farewell for the last time.

It is believed Gayadin was suffering from clinical depression, which may have led to him taking his own life.

Gayadin’s son, well-known financial planner Niresh Gayadin, told The Witness that his father had been living with a “long-term medical condition that recently resurfaced”.

Niresh described Gayadin as a great father, husband and grandfather.

He said his father was an astute businessman and had taught him a lot.

“He helped those in need and had fought many battles in his life.

“But like anyone else, including myself, he had his fair share of critics as he was not perfect,” said Niresh.

He said, so far, the family did not suspect any foul play in his father’s death.

“My father seemed fine but his medical condition recently resurfaced,” said Niresh.

Former speaker of the Msunduzi Municipality and friend of Gayadin, Babu Baijoo, said he had known Gayadin for almost 40 years and that the news of his death came as an “absolute surprise” to him.

“He was an excellent entrepreneur. I remember him from his truck driving days when he worked for Coca-Cola and I witnessed how he grew and managed to become one of the biggest property sellers in the city,” Baijoo said.

He said Gayadin sold him his first house in 1983.

“Gayadin was larger than life. He had a mouth and tongue that no one could match and was not scared of anyone,” said Baijoo.

Baijoo said Gayadin was also a political man who had “moved opportunistically from one political party to another but had died with the IFP”.

“Some loved him and some hated him, there was no in between,” said Baijoo.

Baijoo said they had a very good relationship. He sent his condolences to his family and friends and encouraged his son, Niresh, to “pick up the spear” from where his father left off.

“Niresh is a good entrepreneur with integrity and is well respected in the community,” he said.

Chief Whip for the IFP and close friend to Gayadin, Narend Singh, said he had known Gayadin for over 30 years and always found him to be a devoted family person and friend.

“He was very competitive in the business world and was not afraid to take on the authorities, winning in some instances and losing others,” Singh said.

He said Gayadin and his son were humanitarians who provided food every Sunday for children in some informal settlements in Pietermaritzburg.

“Condolences to his loving family. He will indeed be sadly missed,” said Singh.

Niresh said the family thanked everyone who had been there for them during their tough times.

Litigious Gayadin was no stranger to media spoptlight

Gayadin was no stranger to the media spotlight in the country as his numerous court battles with journalists, property developers and more notably, film producer Anant Singh, were covered extensively in the media.

In 2012, Singh and his company, Rinaldo Investments, won his protracted court battle with Gayadin’s Giant Concerts CC for the right to develop the former Natal Command site.

eThekwini Municipality had sold the site for R15 million in 2003.

Gayadin had challenged the legal validity of the sale on numerous grounds, alleging it was “contaminated by irregularities”.

The case bounced from the high court in KZN, to the Supreme Court of Appeals, and finally to the ultimate decision-maker, the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court eventually unanimously ruled in Singh’s favour and found Giant Concerts did not have legal standing to challenge the sale of the property, as it had not shown it had direct interests in the venture.

Known for his vocal stance on property in the country, Gayadin said he would “pay more” for the property than Rinaldo.

Prior to this, in 2009 Gayadin sought court action against Bollywood music star Shaan Mukherjee who allegedly owed him a large debt. Mukherjee provided security of R280 000 for the debt he allegedly owed Gayadin of Giant Concerts CC.

Gayadin alleged that he entered an oral agreement with Mukherjee in Mumbai in 2003/2004 to perform two shows in Durban and Johannesburg for which Shaan was paid.

However, Mukherjee left the country after performing only the Durban show and Gayadin sought court action for the Johannesburg payment to be returned to him.

Also in 2009, Gayadin found himself in hot water after he was forced to pay R50 000 in damages for defaming the head of Radio Lotus news, Gary Govindsamy. The Durban civil court ruled that Gayadin defamed Govindsamy in 2009 by saying he took bribes, and further injured his dignity by swearing at him.

Govindsamy said Gayadin told his regional editor he was “on somebody’s payroll” and swore at him after he refused to broadcast a story because he established it was inaccurate.

In 2014 Gayadin and then business partner Prakash Maistry took to the courts again to overturn Msunduzi Municipality’s sale of land adjoining Liberty Midlands Mall to Liberty Properties Group. Gayadin and his co-applicants lost their case at the Pietermaritzburg high court.

'Devastated' after business partner's suicide

Gayadin's business partner and friend, Prakash “Jack” Maistry also committed suicide last year.

At that time, Gayadin told The Witnesshe was “totally devastated” to hear about Maistry’s death and was mourning the loss of a “humble and kind” friend. Gayadin was Maistry’s mentor and together they attempted to overturn the sale of land to Liberty Properties Group in 2014. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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