Amichand Rajbansi dies

2011-12-29 12:26

Durban - Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi has died, a family spokesperson said on Thursday.

"He died today [Thursday] at 10:10 of natural causes," Patrick Pillay said.

He was admitted to Umhlanga Hospital outside Durban with bronchitis in October.

Bombastic, thick skinned and thoroughly controversial, Rajbansi has left a memorable mark on South African politics.

'The Bengal Tiger'

Nicknamed "The Bengal Tiger", he was described by the James Commission in 1989 as an "inordinately ambitious man obsessed with a desire to achieve personal power, and ... ruthless in its pursuit".

Rajbansi, who served as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, was born in Durban on January 14, 1942.

He studied history and psychology at the Indian University College in the city before going on to work as a sports administrator, professional soccer referee and then teacher.

Before entering into full-time politics in 1980, he also worked for 10 years as public relations officer for the dairy industry.

According to a biography, sent to Sapa by his office, Rajbansi's youth was "filled with action in the Natal Indian Congress, working with great leaders like Albert Luthuli, Moses Mabhida and Nelson Mandela".

In 1974 he joined the SA Indian Council (SAIC) and became a member of its executive. He resigned that office two years later, in protest at the council's decision to take part in the Cabinet Council, which excluded Africans.

Rajbansi also served on the Southern Durban Local Affairs Committee, but was expelled in 1977 for not declaring a financial interest in a matter under discussion.

He stood for the SAIC when the body was reconstituted in 1981, and was returned on an eight percent poll. He then formed a National People's Party (NPP), which took control of the council, and Rajbansi became SAIC chairperson.

Tricameral elections

In the first tricameral elections in August 1984, Rajbansi won the Arena Park seat for the NPP, which obtained a majority in the House of Delegates.

Rajbansi became chairperson of the Delegates' Ministers' Council, and declared in a newspaper interview at the time that he worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week, on behalf of the people, and invoked Gandhi and Pandit Nehru to justify his participation in the tricameral system.

Towards the end of 1984, he was appointed minister without portfolio in PW Botha's Cabinet.

In 1985, his house was bombed by an ANC recruit who was jailed in 1987.

Virtually from its inception, claims and counter claims of kidnap, death threats, intimidation, corruption and bribery flew thick and fast in the House of Delegates.

In February 1987, in the face of dissent in the NPP, Rajbansi resigned as party leader, then withdrew his resignation a few days later.

In May that year, the NPP lost the majority in the House to an opposition coalition, but Rajbansi refused to step down as chairperson - even after a 24-17 vote in the House calling for his resignation - saying he would only go when required to by the state president, who appointed him.

Botha stalled, and a week later the alliance and the threat to Rajbansi collapsed.


In June, a Parliamentary select committee found he had accepted R10 000 for the NPP from a private concern to "facilitate the obtaining of land and contracts".

He was subsequently suspended from the Cabinet and from the House, and Botha appointed Justice Neville James as a one-man commission to investigate allegations of corruption in the Delegates Administration.

Rajbansi declared to a reporter that he was busy preparing a "2000-page bombshell" to present to the commission.

In August the same year, 1988, he was found guilty by another parliamentary committee of "glaring" maladministration in that he pressured delegates, ministers and officials into buying, for R1.1m, a cultural centre which turned out to be a white elephant - and this when the purchase price was about R400 000 higher than its valuation.

In December 1988, after receiving the James Commission's preliminary report, Botha sacked him from the Cabinet and the Ministers' Council, and Rajbansi declared he was planning to institute legal actions for damages against every person who made allegations against him at the Commission.

In the final Commission report in February 1989, James described Rajbansi as "arrogant", "unscrupulous", "ruthless" and a "mean-minded bully".

He found he had lied to Parliament, given false evidence to the commission, committed statutory perjury and misused his position, and recommended that he never again be employed as a minister in the House or in any official or semi-official post which called for integrity.

A newspaper wrote afterwards that Rajbansi was now considered "honour bound" to resign as MP.

On February 8, Rajbansi did step down as Parliamentary leader of the NPP, but carried on as national leader. Two weeks later, he resigned from the NPP saying he was going to start a new political party for "purists", and was suspended from the House again by popular vote.

In April he bounced back, cancelling his resignation as Parliamentary leader "with immediate effect" and was reinstated as national leader of the NPP.

In June 1990, he was convicted on two counts of fraud related to the use of "fronts" to obtain premises for his businesses when he was a member of the SA Indian Council, and fined R10 000.

In 1991 he was ordered to pay a former Delegates MP, Pat Poovalingam, R50 000 plus cost for circulating a defamatory letter describing Poovalingam as a "gutterish liar" after he accused Rajbansi of taking bribes and of corruption in property deals.

Rajbansi underwent a heart bypass in May 1989.

After South Africa's transition to multi-racial democracy in 1994, the NPP became the Minority Front (MF) and continued to draw support from the Indian community.

According to his office, Rajbansi formed the MF "because he wanted to be elected by the people he served, and not piggy-back on bigger parties".

Ten years later, after the 2004 elections, Rajbansi made an alliance with the African National Congress and became sports and recreation MEC for KwaZulu-Natal.


Rajbansi was formerly married to Asha Devi, with whom he had five children. The couple separated in 1998 - with alleged paranormal activity and evil spirits in their marital home being cited among the reasons for their separation - and divorced in 2000.

In 2001, Rajbansi married Shameen Thakur, who is also a member of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.

In January 2009, Rajbansi received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the India International Friendship Society in New Delhi.

In April that same year, in the country’s fourth democratic elections, the Minority Front fared badly, only getting 0.25% of the vote.

Rajbansi, who would have turned 70 in January 2012, was admitted to Umhlanga Hospital on October 26, 2011 with a chest infection. He was placed in the hospital’s intensive care unit and on a ventilator.

According to a Durban newspaper, it was his second trip to hospital in a matter of weeks. A fortnight earlier he was admitted with a mild chest infection and to have a heart valve checked. He was discharged on October 20, but his condition deteriorated thereafter.

  • nashinh - 2011-12-29 12:30

    R.I.P Mr. Rajbansi. Thank you for all that you have done for South Africans and for helping in the fight against Apartheid. God bless your soul and many condolences to your family. :(

      Johncarlos Cynical Biza - 2011-12-29 13:08

      Why the hell would so many people give this comment a thumbs down? What's so wrong about it?

      nasheenar - 2011-12-29 13:11

      I dont understand how a person can get a thumbs down for sending their condolences to the family???

      nashinh - 2011-12-29 13:20

      No worries guys. Life's too short to worry about the thumbs that are down. As long as this great man is remembered and his legacy never dies, the thumbs don't make a difference because he had more supporters than enemies. :)

      Shadoz66 - 2011-12-29 15:03

      just a bunch of trolls they are don't wory about the thumbs down.

      Yar - 2011-12-29 15:08

      @Ubejhane You are clearly an ANC supporter and have no respect. Your party has almost perfected corruption. Remain silent.

      Zion - 2011-12-29 15:09

      JohnCarlos Cynical Biza. The thumbs down is coming from a particular section of the population that hated (if I may) The Indians in South Africa and all they stood for. Rather just an infantile show of solidarity towards their own incompetent rulers. That said now I will be targeted too.

      Bloody-Agent - 2011-12-29 15:10

      He might have stood up for the Indian population, but that still doesn't change the fact that he was corrupt..

      Sharkshoot - 2011-12-29 18:22

      I hope they show as much respect for his toupe. Does anyone know if he was buried with the little critter?

      Grant - 2011-12-29 19:18

      There seems to be quite a bit under the "Corruption" heading - why is everybody ignoring this? Just wondering...

  • Ashley - 2011-12-29 12:31

    RIP Mr Rajbansi. I wonder who is going to stand up for us indians now??????

      sorryson3 - 2011-12-29 12:42

      Ashley after 150 years you guys are more than capable of standing up for yourselves as a proud and wealthy minority !!! Be positive and know your kind will continue to contribute positively to the Nation as a whole. Mr Rajbansi, the Bengal Tiger, thanks for some really memorable quotes and actions, RIP and condolences to your family, friends and followers.

      Johncarlos Cynical Biza - 2011-12-29 12:44

      Rather be your own person

      Ashley - 2011-12-29 14:44

      Not crying, you ignorant people that don't know jack about indians! Besides that, the blacks are the racist ones, thats why you are treated the way you are treated.

      Dave - 2011-12-29 15:10

      Julius Malema?

      Ashley - 2011-12-29 15:12

      LOL Ubhejane, you are very funny, i'm not going to argue with you. All i have to say is, I have brains, we came to South Africa as slaves and rose above that although there was oppression, so boo whoo for your brothers and sisters that can't think intelligently. As for those 2 Indian figures you mentioned, HA HA. I CAN NAME OVER A THOUSAND OF CORRUPT BLACK POLITICIANS AND ASSociates.

      ubhejane - 2011-12-29 15:19

      @Dave. LOL LOL LOL Please don't open that can of worms!!!!!!!

      nasheenar - 2011-12-29 15:37

      @ubhejane how old are you ??????????? Indians came to this country as slaves, not rich people but slaves. Indians back then were humble and very hard workers.They purchased land which was taken away and also suffered at the hands of Apartheid.The difference with the indian community is they looked after their own.Yes their were many poor famlies I know I come from such a home, however my mother and father as poor as what we where always made sure there was a meal on the table. It might not have been a fancy meal but it was one nevertheless.I dont think the Indian community would be focussing on how many Black attended his funeral, he did good for his people and that's whats important.Sorry that you feel the way you do.

      Yar - 2011-12-29 15:40

      @Ubhejane I Think you are an anti-indian racist who ignores black ANC corruption. You point at Maharaj & the Shaiks and call them corrupt. Tell you what they didn't do it alone. Your brothers were involved.

      ubhejane - 2011-12-29 15:47

      @nasheenar. I'm sorry to hear you were so poor and your forebears were slaves. Seems we were a lot more fortunate with my mother scrubbing the white people's toilets. But this debate isn't a competition to see who was the poorest. This is about Shabir Shaik and Mac Maharaj who designed the first Grand Theft when we became free in 1994. They were the architects of the grandest theft in the history of this country. Do you want numbers?????????

      nasheenar - 2011-12-29 16:17

      @Ubhejane this is not a platform for debate but more discussion.Not sure how you can "debate" a persons death... he died, can't debate that!!!! We too had famalies that cleaned toilets.A very close family friend passed away last year. She was old but she educated all three of her children. We dont hold our poverty against anyone or any race, we rose above the situation worked hard and hence today we can be proud of someone like Mr Rajbansi who was the voice for the Indian people and that is the only point of this particular discussion. Like I said previously I am sorry that you feel the way you do about Indians You are entitled to feel the way you do.Its not our fault your mom scrubbed white peoples floors. Yes I feel for you and can understand your hatred however one cannot go through life holding on to the hatred.

      ubhejane - 2011-12-29 17:18

      Over and out Nasheenar. I'm out of here. The forum is yours again. You can all now cry peacefully about Rajbansi. I said what I wanted to say about the corrupt members of your community. Thankfully we live in very different parts of the country and I rarely encounter any of you, other than read about the Shaik Mafia and whatever they are stealing. Enjoy your AMG Mercedes and thank this government for the generosity bestowed on the members of your community.

      nasheenar - 2011-12-29 18:00

      @Ubhejane well thankfully for us our parents did their best to feed us and educate us and make sure we stayed out of trouble.Our Race doesnt make up the 98% prison population!! Go figure those stats. How often do you find black people begging at the traffic lights.Everyday thats how often and yet I have never seen a black person roll down his window of his big black BMW and offer a cent but you will always see white people giving, money, food old clothes, blankets in winter ...its called compassion but yet you hate these same people. You know why? cos you have your own distored version of everything in life. A little knowledge is dangerous hence people like Malema prey on the likes of you cos you dont know any better and never will.

      ubhejane - 2011-12-29 18:20

      LOL LOL Nasheenar. We should have coffee whenever you are in Joburg. What a surprise awaits you. If only you knew! Nash now listen to me. Seriously now. All the stuff Rajbansi did or didn't do was a bit before my time. All I know he was part of the Nationalist concocted government trying to put up a unified face to the world. I do have real issues about Shaik and Maharaj, but I'm sure so do you. As for the rest of the Indians/Muslims, they are great and I was a huge fan Prof Asmal. He was one tremendous wise individual. So there you have a serious post from me and not one tormenting the people.

      nasheenar - 2011-12-29 18:35

      @Ubhejane You're on. I hate Joburg so you gonna have to come to Cape Town for coffee...LOL

      Hans - 2011-12-30 09:12

      @ubhejane - you are a really bitter person.Why do you blame us for everything that went wrong in your lives?We are a very small minority and if 20 odd million blacks cannot uplift themselves, what can 1 millions Indians do for you?The problem with your leaders is that they fend for themselves and don't really care about the poor.They forget where they came from.No race is perfect, but at least we are a community who takes care of each other, can you say the same for yours?

  • nadir.somai - 2011-12-29 12:43

    Sad day for the Indian community; RIP

  • robin.harriram - 2011-12-29 12:51

    Hare Krishna. May the good Lord Krishna Accept you for all You have done for us. You will be missed.

      Ronel - 2011-12-29 13:17

      Sad day. The Raj was always fun to follow,what with all the goings on and so on.He was wily and so good at spinning the story He gave as good as he got. Hare Krishna.

  • Zanele - 2011-12-29 12:53


      hlakulao - 2011-12-29 13:45

      Why thums Down? People are cruel you know? What goes around, comes around

  • nasheenar - 2011-12-29 13:01

    My Condolences to Mr Rajbansi's family. A great leader and spokesman for the Minority.Thank you for all that you have done for the Indian people during apartheid era.May your soul rest in peace and may you be forever remembered.

  • Bianca-Anne - 2011-12-29 13:05

    Sincere condolences to his Family and Loved-ones. I do remember his contribution well in Politics.

  • Joos - 2011-12-29 13:08

    Not your typical corrupt politician, he also believed in ghosts. (mind you)

  • neshan.orrie - 2011-12-29 13:21

    R.I.P Mr. Rajbansi and condolences to the Rajbansi family.....

  • PaasHaas - 2011-12-29 13:21

    Farewell to a colourful figure in SA politics, particularly in an era dominated by the dour PW Botha and his cabinet of lemon suckers. Who can forget quotes like "we'll double cross that bridge when we get to it" OR those outrageous hairpieces. RIP

      Chris - 2011-12-29 16:54

      What I would remember is him yelling in parlemnent : "but..but what about the housing" , speaking up for Indian housing issues...

  • benaicker - 2011-12-29 13:21

    Thank Amichand for everything you have done for the community.

  • Themba - 2011-12-29 13:34

    May he so rest in piece,,

      Balletjies - 2011-12-29 13:57

      You must use the word "peace". " Piece" can be used as in hair "piece" like Mr Raj used to wear - hairpiece. But don`t worry man, my Engrish can also be be crap at times, since my home language is Afrikaans - thank f*** for spell checker!

  • bhola - 2011-12-29 13:34

    He was a great man. He will be missed, especially by the Indian community.

  • Kevin - 2011-12-29 13:50

    RIP Raj. The Chatsworth Champion and Tiger of the South is gone to the happy hunting grounds in the sky. No more outrageous comments and letters to the Editors - and of course ... no more skew hairpieces. We will miss the comedy side of politics.

  • Balletjies - 2011-12-29 14:02

    I`m gonna have one genuine Mutton Bunny on that man - as a Durban witou, you cant beat that for a chow! We used to eat at the House of Delegates years ago for cheap. RIP Raj!

      jowza1 - 2011-12-29 14:11


      bhavz.maharaj - 2011-12-29 14:36

      for a real treat, try dhall bunny with 2 straws :)

      Balletjies - 2011-12-29 15:29

      Hey Bhavs, post one recopy for dhall bunny - never heard of it before!

      Balletjies - 2011-12-29 18:11

      C`mon is a Dhall Bunny??

      Hans - 2011-12-30 09:16

      @bhavz.maharaj -that is the funniest thing I have ever heard. @Balletjies , when you visit an Indian take away, you must ask for one. Then tell us the expression on the cashiers face.

  • Ruven Raghoo - 2011-12-29 14:19

    This story potrays Mr Rajbansi in a very bad light. Shame on the editor!

  • Dave - 2011-12-29 15:13

    The Raj replacement? Julius Malema? HELP ! ! !

      Yar - 2011-12-29 15:41

      Julius is not that good.

      Arvin - 2011-12-29 21:52

      Dont insult the Raj. You cant compare.

      Hans - 2011-12-30 09:17

      The Raj used to feed the poor, did malema ever do that?

  • Twolips - 2011-12-29 15:17

    I'll miss reading his letters in the papers.

  • jan.calitz1 - 2011-12-29 15:34

    We loved him and wish to express condolences to his family. He was among other thing, a great comedian who brought smiles to many people's faces during tense elections!

  • tazveer.singh - 2011-12-29 15:36

    condolences to all relatives and family....death is never an easy thing but you idiots have no compassion and keep on blabering about race....every South African has the chance to be who he wants to be - it takes a lot of hard work.... so stop waitn to be empowered and think beyond your measly situation....

      Balletjies - 2011-12-29 15:39

      I second that!

  • Abigail777 - 2011-12-29 16:55

    Sympathies to the berieved! Its appointed for man to die once and thereafter judgement. Out of here, we know no hate-the greatest challenge for the remaining ones is r they ready to account before the creator-if they were to face their maker? Warn, while there is chance to change or forever hold your peace! Far back when I heard about spirits haunting the family of the late; I was moved & wanted to pray4him given the undeniable power I have witnessed whenever Jesus Name is invoked in demonic encounters. For now the question is on those who are yet to go. Are u ready for the mansions, bright and true? Are u washed in the blood of the Lamb? Death knows no status, knows no race, no IQ;small and great shall appear the judgement throne-only those who asked for forgiveness of sin, shall have eternal life! Heaven is for all who believe-I have a dvd of two ressurected individuals with details medically confirmed. They tell a story and what a story! Perhaps as our world stumbles and lives ebb away, its time to ask: what caused death, what has shaken nations, peoples and languages as this? What is stattering relationships between individuals, communities and nations and what is the remedy? U can read rebellion Analysed for details on this. Contact for detailIts time to reflect the end of all humanity and by so doing lets seek God for our own forgiveness; u have a friend who says I conquered death, believe me and u'll be resurrected to eternity- His name is Jesus!!!

      Arvin - 2011-12-29 21:53

      Who is Jesus again?

      colin.dovey - 2011-12-30 10:28

      Sorry Abigail - with the deepest lost me somewhere - are you advertising something, like those DVD's, or are you really sympathising with the BEREAVED?

  • eddie.enock - 2011-12-29 17:01

    There was not a single thing good that was said in this report. This is genuine gutter reporting. Shame on the writer.

      nasheenar - 2011-12-29 18:15

      @uberjane you my man are a racist and unfortunately your own worst enemy.Peace!!!

      Ruven Raghoo - 2011-12-29 18:28

      ubhejane, what does fireworks have to do with the death of a veteran who fought for the rights of all Non-whites. Remember this is the man who feeds Welbedecht Area ( a predominment black area), what have u done to be proud of? Stop being a racist.

      Shiv - 2011-12-29 20:57

      i hate fireworks, but I will gladly volunteer to put one up your backside ubhejane. 'you bunch' haha, have a shower arsewipe

      Arvin - 2011-12-29 21:49

      The writer must be black.

  • Arvin - 2011-12-29 21:43

    This man has made history. First living person to have a play written - James Commission. He stood the TEST of TIME. Show me one politician that did what he did or can match up to him. Phoenix & Chatsworth can speak volumes on this GREAT man. An unsung HERO !!!

      Arvin - 2011-12-29 21:47

      Watch the Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday when his funeral is being done. Hope he gets a state funeral and its televised.

  • anthony.swart - 2011-12-29 22:03

    He walked a tight rope all through his political career and deserves some positive accolades. May history always remember him for his achievements and not his human failings. R.I.P

  • kreelin.nadasen - 2011-12-31 11:47

    A true politician who always stood up for his people.He used his wit to help the people he represented and for that we will be eternally grateful!!! Thank you for everything you have done for us Mr Rajbansi. May your soul rest in peace.

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