Johannesburg - SA Democratic Teachers' Union founding member Poobie Naicker has died aged 87, the union said on Thursday.
He died in Johannesburg on Tuesday while attending to union business.
“Comrade Naicker became the first deputy president of Sadtu when the union was officially launched on the 6th of October 1990 in Shareworld, Johannesburg.”
Prior to Sadtu's establishment, Naicker was president of the Teachers' Association of SA (Tasa), which was the biggest Indian teachers' union.
“Even though Tasa was dominated by Indian teachers, it was ahead of its time as it stood for non-racialism.
“Its constitution stipulated that it was open to everybody. However, it could not practice that due to the apartheid system in the country at the time,” Sadtu said.
It was due to Naicker's “visionary leadership” that Tasa brought to Sadtu its membership, assets, shares, secretariat support services, and a 15-storey building in Durban, laying the foundation for the fledgling union.
“Cde Naicker had a passion for communities and believed in a truly non-racial South Africa which made him fully embrace the idea of a united, non-racial, non-sexist teacher union which led to the formation of Sadtu.”
Naicker served the teaching profession for 45 years and was principal of Willowpark Primary School in Umhlatuzana, Chatsworth.
“Born in a farm in Umzinto, on the 3/8 south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, Naicker started schooling at the age of 10 and had to walk for 20km to school,” Sadtu said.
He initially refused to attend high school because he felt he had a duty to work and support his family, but finally relented. He studied part-time for his teaching qualification while working at a sugar mill.
When he became a teacher, Naicker continued studying part-time through the University of Natal and received Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees.
Naicker is survived by his wife Neela, his son Arul and daughter Logie, as well as four granddaughters, Kerusha, Leevania, Dianka, and Yeshinee.