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THE DEATH of Public Service and Administration Minister Radhakrishna Lutchman “Roy” Padayachie is an untimely loss to SA.
So says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in a tribute to his cabinet colleague and former comrade.
Padayachie was found dead in his hotel room on Friday in Addis Ababa, where he was representing SA on government business.
He turned 62 on May 1.
“Despite his ill-health in recent times, his dedication and approach to public service still drove him to go to Ethiopia. It is this remarkable example that… all of us in public service should strive to emulate,” Gordhan said.
He described Padayachie’s involvement as part of a “pioneering group of activists and supporters of the Freedom Charter and the congress movement, during a revival in politics in SA, about 10 years after the banning of the ANC and some six years after the Rivonia Trial.
After matriculating from Tagore High School in Clairwood, Padayachie earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the segregated University College for Indians on Salisbury Island in Durban bay.
He later won a scholarship to University College London, where he earned his Master’s degree.
Along with fellow student activists like Gordhan, Padayachie helped lead a campaign for the right to be represented by a students’ representative council.
He was active in the 1971 revival of the Natal Indian Congress, a forerunner of the United Democratic Front, which he served as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal executive, and helped set up the Chatsworth Housing Action Committee.
“This launched Roy and his generation of activists on a path of unshakeable commitment to non-racialism and democracy and the vision of the Freedom Charter,” Gordhan said.
“I am sure Roy would say that he was privileged to be a part of a generation that both defeated apartheid and contributed to building a democratic state and a non-racial, non-sexist society…” Gordhan said.
“Both in his contribution to our historic Struggle and during his service in government, Roy demonstrated his patriotism, his courage to make personal sacrifices and a remarkable commitment and resilience.
“He worked hard, commanded the detail and applied his vast political experience to the challenges of the democratic era.”
The ANC provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, said the funeral service would begin at 11am at Durban’s Sahara Kingsmead Stadium on Wednesday.