Rugby legend honoured in book penned by his sister

Former Western Province rugby player, Cassiem Jabaar, at the launch of the book in his honour at the District Six museum.

A new book shares the tale of how a young rugby player, born in District Six, became an iconic Western Province rugby legend in the 1970’s.

Kat: The Cassiem Jabaar Story was launched on Sunday January 15 at the District Six Museum. It was written by Suraya Jabaar-Esau, who is the younger sister of Mr Jabaar, who was called Kat in his rugby days.

Ms Jabaar-Esau, 56, formerly of District Six, who now lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband Achmat Esau and their two children, says she was drawn to writing the biography when her family received preferential treatment because of her brother while she was growing up in Distict Six.

Ms Jabaar-Esau, who is 20 years younger than her brother, said: “I had no idea he was already seen as a rugby icon but when he showed me his articles and scrapbooks, I started wondering whether he was indeed famous.”

She says thd book will tell how her brother grew up in District Six and aspired to reach the top levels of rugby while the apartheid system played a major role in his life decisions.

“The book takes the reader through Cassiem’s life journey as a little boy playing rugby to being an administrator before retiring,” she says.

Her husband did the art and design of the book.

Ms Jabaar-Esau, who attended the launch, said she hopes it will be the start of many rugby legends’ life stories being told.

“It was important for me to tell my brother’s story before it’s forgotten. This is the start of hopefully many more biographies and autobiographies of a people who loved community and sports, a people who lived in harmony and love, in spite of being poor,” she says.

Mr Jabaar, 76, who now lives in Grassy Park, said: “I’m overwhelmed and can’t thank my sister enough for taking the initiative to write the story of my life and for my brother-in-law for designing the book.”

Mr Jabaar was playing scrumhalf for Western Province in the 1970s. He later became a sports administrator for the Western Province Rugby Union.

He recalls the fond memories of playing for the famous rugby team.

“Non-racial Western Province was to me a community in which I felt a sense of belonging and attachment. I was honoured to play with and against renowned players in our communities,” he says.

Mr Jabaar did not have the opportunity to represent the Springboks during that era because of the countries oppressive Apartheid polices of the time.

“Although there was a tinge of sadness it was more important for me to reach the levels of rugby in my own community of non-racial rugby and make my people proud,” he says.

Mr Jabaar says this book is relevant because young people need to know where they come from and in which direction they need to go.

If anyone is interested in buying Kat: The Cassiem Jabaar Story, it’s available at Amazon at

Author of Kat: The Cassiem Jabaar Story, Suraya Jabaar-Esau, at the launch at the District Six museum.
Famours musician, Mervyn Africa who is a childhood friend of Cassiem Jabaar was present at the launch.