Covid-19 has claimed the life of Durban resident Satish Dhupelia, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
Described by friends as a “gentle giant”, he was hospitalised for pneumonia and while undergoing treatment contracted the virus, dying of heart complications on November 22. He was 66.
Born on November 19, 1954, Dhupelia was the son of Shashikant and Sita Dhupelia.
After leaving school, he trained as a teacher and was a popular member of staff at Gandhi Desai School and Clairwood High School.
He later became interested in photography and resigned from teaching to pursue a career as a photographer.
During the transition to democracy, Dhupelia produced a number of news clips for international companies.
In his free time, he was a trustee of Phoenix Settlement — the farm started by his great-grandfather Mahatma Gandhi; served on the management committee of the Gandhi Development Trust — started by his aunt Ela Gandhi; and took the lead in running the Gandhi Development outreach programme, which supplies hampers to informal settlements. Dhupelia also served on the Sydenham/Sherwood Community Police Forum; was a member of the Durban Amphitheatre Market committee; a board member of the Clare Estate Crematorium; and a board member of the 1860 Heritage Centre.
Tributes poured in after the news of his death was confirmed by his family at the weekend.
A spokesperson for the 1860 Foundation said he was “a kindhearted and compassionate leader”, adding: “He was a peoples’ champion, always fighting for the rights of the downtrodden and always on hand to help those most in need. He served South Africa and his community with distinction.”
Fellow photographer Rajesh Jantilal said he had learned a great from Dhupelia during his own career, while playwright and actor Rajesh Gopie thanked him for his “selfless service”.
Actress Jailoshini Naidoo said she was heartbroken to hear the news of his death, adding: “Rest in peace dearest Satish.
“What a kind, sincere, genuine human being. You will be sorely missed my friend. Love and condolences to the family. You’re in our thoughts and prayers.”
Bollywood reporter Fakir Hassen meanwhile said he would always remember his long-time friend for “his calm composure, never getting fazed at the situations that often arose at many of the local and international events that we ended up at together during my decade at Radio Lotus from 1985 to 1995.
ALSO READ: ‘Gandhi has many lessons to teach the young’
“Satish maintained contact after that as well, and when social media arrived, his witty comments and video creations were always keenly awaited not just by me, but thousands of social media viewers.”
Dhupelia is survived by his sisters Uma, Dhupelia-Mesthrie and Kirti Menon; his children Misha, Shashika and Kabir; his brothers-in-law Rajend Mesthrie and Sunil Menon; and his nieces Sunita and Sapna.
The family requested that those wanting to pay their respects should donate money to charitable organisations for the poor, the homeless and animals.