Friends remember Latiff

2015-11-26 08:38
Omar Latiff

Omar Latiff (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - A moving memorial service was held this week to commemorate the life of former Msunduzi mayor Omar Latiff.

The memorial, held by his friends and family at the city hall on Tuesday, saw numerous delegates pay tribute to a man who paved the way for Indians, blacks and coloureds in business and sought to improve their socio-economic standing.

Speaking on behalf of the family, his children Adil, Ozayr and Asma described their father as a selfless hero to many and an amazing father.

Latiff believed education was the key to success and even up until last year, had been enrolled at Unisa as a student.

“He was a strange man, who taught us in a different manner. We were never typical Muslims or typical anything,” laughed Ozayr.

Latiff died in September this year after years of ill-health.

Treasurer-general for the ANC Dr Zweli Mkhize paid a moving tribute that epitomised working, living and sharing a deep friendship with Latiff. Mkhize said that he only wished to thank the Latiff family, especially Latiff’s wife Roshen Carrim, who continuously opened her home to all the activists.

“With all his knowledge and academic successes, Latiff could still relate to those who were downtrodden. He went all out to make a contribution where no level of reward was expected,” said Mkhize.

He said that Latiff’s appointment as mayor in a new democratic land was the best decision that could be made.

Close friends Goolam Dawood and Riquadeu Jacobs said Latiff was “a fountain of knowledge” and experienced “deep, unique and special relationships” with each friend.

“He provided constant mentorship and invested in many friends along the way,” said Jacobs.

Describing him as being full of humour and mischief, the friends relayed stories of Latiff cheating during a pool or card game.

Former mayor Rob Haswell said Latiff was the driving force behind the Mandela-Gandhi Freedom of the City day on April 25, 1997.

“Our city has had many good mayors, but I doubt whether we have ever had a mayor of Omar’s political, financial, social and personal calibre.

“He introduced zero-based budgeting, in sharp contrast to the usual, and annual, last year plus six percent increase in rates and tariffs, to cover expenditure,” said Haswell.

Also present at the memorial were mayors Chris Ndlela and Yusuf Bhamjee and ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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