Dawood Khan: a life spent helping others

Dawood Khan died on New Year’s Day.

Dawood Khan will be remembered as a servant of the people who was passionate about improving the lives of others and lending a helping hand.

The anti-apartheid activist and ANC veteran died in his Kensington home on New Year’s Day of natural causes. He was 90.

During his lifetime, Mr Khan wore many hats: he was the founder of the Western Cape Traders’ Association, vice-chairman of the Kensington-Factreton Residents’ Association, and he served as Kensington’s ward councillor.

He founded the Muslim Association for Red Cross Children’s Hospital and was chairman of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Board and Brooklyn Chest Hospital.

On the political front, Mr Khan was a member of the ANC and later joined the United Democratic Movement (UDM).

In the 1960s, he was detained for 180 days on Robben Island, without trial.

Mr Khan lived with his eldest son, Mohamed Hoosain Khan, 66, until his death.

Life was not easy for the Khans who grew up with police constantly at their door in search of their father.

Mr Khan said his father at some stage fled the country and stayed in India for about eight years. “It was hard growing up. I still have memories of the police banging on our door,” he said.

His father had always been on the go, whether as a councillor or working for the various organisations he had been part of.

“My dad and I would argue often, as he was always on the move. He would quickly pop in at home and then rush from one place to another.

“My father had a heart for people and always went out of his way. He taught me to help people, no matter the financial circumstances. Because he was always helping others, he had many failed businesses, but he continued to help.“

Dr Anita Parbhoo, acting CEO of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital said they mourned the loss of Mr Khan, who served on the Hospital Facility Board for over 13 years and was the chairman of the board for nine of those years.

“During that time, he showed his passion for making patients’ lives better by contributing in whatever way he could assist. We hope that Mr Khan’s family, friends and loved ones take comfort in knowing how much he was loved by the Red Cross Hospital family, how he was admired for going out of his way to assist anybody in need in the community and how he was a role model in giving of himself to society at large,” she said. ” His kindness to humanity is a shiny example to us all.“

Eddie White, programme manager of the Friends of the Children’s Hospital Association, met Mr Khan in 2000 while volunteering for the South African Red Cross Society and he reconnected with him in 2015 when he joined the Friends.

Mr Khan had been dedicated to supporting sick children and their families, he said.

“Mr Khan was as a practical, hands-on person whose only interest was to get the job done and see that the children and families at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital had the best support from the Friends. He served as chairperson and later resigned to an ordinary board member but with the same vigour and impetus.“

Mr Khan would be remembered as a true servant of the people who was selfless and committed to bettering the lives of all people, he said.

“He was, in my view, a citizen of the world. On his passing, condolences poured in from around the world for the great son of South Africa and Africa.”