Obituary: Stalwart activist Rajputhe Mohan

2013-01-17 00:00

RAJPUTHE Mohan (81), a community stalwart and political activist from Pietermaritzburg’s well known Bookhan Brothers family, died last Thursday after a short illness.

Mohan faithfully campaigned for the ANC in the northern suburbs in every election since 1994.

Umgungundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said she continued to campaign door to door until the last local government election in 2011 when she was in her late 70s.

During the apartheid years she participated in campaigns led by the Natal Indian Congress and the United Democratic Front.

Mohan’s daughter, Karuna, said her mother’s activism had its roots in her childhood. She grew up in a highly politicised family in Clairwood in Durban.

“My mother’s brother, S. Gopal, was active in the Natal Indian Congress with I.C. Meer. The late Krish Rabilal, an Mkontho Wesizwe operative who was killed in Mozambique in a raid on the ANC’s Matola camp, was her cousin’s son.”

Karuna said her mother was also a staunch follower of the Arya Samaj Movement, a Hindu reform organisation that believed in equal rights for women.

Mohan’s husband Paljieth was a member of the Bookhan family, who ran a spice and general dealers store in Church Street.

Karuna said her father, also a member of the Samaj movement, was a progressive person and gave her mother the space to do her community work.

Mohan was actively involved in the Pietermaritzburg Hindu Stree Samaj and was a member of the Deepavali Cheer Society, which provides food hampers for poor families.

Himathlal Soni, chairperson of the society, said Mohan helped pack hampers last November just weeks before she was hospitalised.

He said she would work until late in the evening and arrive early the next morning to help finish the packing.

She was a member of the National Council of Women and later became a member of the Sunrise Senior Citizens’ Club.

Karuna said her mother opened up their home for meetings, and struggle stalwarts like Frank Chikane and Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota would stay over or stop for a meal at the house when they were passing through Pietermaritzburg.

Karuna’s sister, Dr Rekha Mohan, described her mother as gentle, kind and caring.

“She kept food and bottled water in her fridge to give beggars on hot days. Her spirituality existed in her hospitality.”

She leaves two daughters and two granddaughters.

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