Activist with ‘biggest heart’ dies

Dawood Khan will be remembered as modern-day Robin Hood who devoted his life to serving others.
Dawood Khan will be remembered as modern-day Robin Hood who devoted his life to serving others.

A modern-day Robin Hood who devoted his life to serve others. This is how Dawood Khan, former political activist, will be remembered.

The 90-year-old Khan, who previously also served as a ward councillor for the Kensington and Maitland area died on Friday 1 January, in his Kensington home. He died of natural causes.

As a young man, born and raised in Maitland, Khan was a passionate anti-apartheid activist and ANC stalwart.

He was also the former chair of the Western Cape Traders Association and served on the Western Cape Anti-Crime Forum. In the 1960’s Khan was arrested and detained without trial for 180 days on Robben Island.

When former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison in February 1990 Khan was tasked with arranging the motorcade for Mandela. It was Khan’s Toyota Cressida vehicle that was used to transport the late statesman.

His son Ahmed says ever since he can remember, his father was a man who stood up against injustices and fought for the rights of people.

“He had the biggest heart for people. He believed money should not be kept in his pocket and would always share the little he had with others. He was someone (who) we as his children could look up to, and very down-to-earth.”

Khan also served as the chair of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital board and was the founding member of the Muslim Association of Red Cross Children’s Hospital (MARCH).

Dawood Esack, Khan’s lifelong friend, says: “He was a person for the people, especially for the elderly. He would collect them (the elderly) in his vehicle to go and get their social grants or pension. He was a humble man.”

Esack says to him Khan was also a father figure. One of his fondest memories of Khan is his caring heart.

“He wasn’t a rich man, but he had great contacts. If there was a child who could not afford to pay for his or her tuition fees, he would get sponsors for that child. If ever there was a need, he didn’t have the money, but he would get the money.”

Kevin Alexander, community activist, says the community has lost a giant-hearted man.

“I had great respect for the man as a person, a fellow Justice of the Peace and community leader. He was involved in many organizations to benefit the community; he was a true giver and would go out of his way to help someone in need irrespective of the person’s background or religion.”

Ahmed says he will never forget the values his father instilled in him; values he shares with his own children and grandchildren.

Khan is survived by his two daughters and five sons.

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