Satish Dhupelia, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, passed away on Sunday. Picture: Facebook
Satish Dhupelia, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, passed away on Sunday. Picture: Facebook

Tributes pour in after death of community activist Satish Dhupelia

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Nov 23, 2020

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Durban - Tributes have poured in on social media following news of the death of well-known Durban activist Satish Dhupelia.

Dhupelia, who celebrated his 66th birthday last week, passed away on Sunday.

The family said Dhupelia suffered from pulmonary fibrosis for many years. Three weeks ago he contracted pneumonia.

"While in hospital, he picked up a superbug which led to a second admission. During this second visit, he picked up Covid-19. He was being treated for Covid-19 and died of a massive heart attack on November 22," a family spokesperson said.

He is survived by his two sisters, Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie and Kirti Menon; his children Misha, Shashika and Kabir; his brother in-laws, Rajend Mesthrie and Sunil Menon; and his nieces, Sunita and Sapna.

Dhupelia worked as a teacher and was an avid photographer and videographer.

During the transition to democracy, he produced many newsclips for international companies. He was a well sought-after wedding photographer, always experimenting with new technology.

He was a volunteer of several groups. He was a trustee of Phoenix Settlement, the farm started by his great-grandfather Mahatma Gandhi. He also served on the management committee of the Gandhi Development Trust which was started by his aunt, Ela Gandhi. He took the lead in running the Gandhi Outreach Programme by supplying hampers to many informal settlements and the poor.

Dhupelia believed in getting to know those whom he helped. He was also a member of the Sydenham/Sherwood Community Police Forum, a member of the Durban Amphitheatre Market Committee, and a board member of the Clare Estate Crematorium and the 1860 Heritage Centre.

He was particularly keen that the 1860 Heritage Centre transform itself from an ethnic museum to one that spoke about and to all South Africans. As a board member, he often took groups of children on a tour of the museum. He also chaired numerous conversations at the centre.

His family said while others talked and wrote about Gandhi’s teachings, Dhupelia lived his great-grandfather’s message.

"The car guards in Sydenham all knew Satish well, and he often gave them cash and food. They knew his name and he their names and life stories. A keen animal lover, he was known to pick up lost and wounded animals and take them to shelters and the veterinary clinics. The love of his love was his pit bull/bull terrier, Bella. She will be bereft without him," the family said.

His auntil, Ela Gandhi said: "Satish’s wit and humour will be remembered fondly by his family and friends. He was a warm compassionate, caring person. Whatever he did he always put his heart and soul into it. The children and supervisor of the Siyathutuka créche at Phoenix Settlement loved him, and all those who listened to his radio shows loved him. His outreach programme was among the most effective programmes of the Gandhi Development Trust."

Many have taken to social media to share their fond memories of how he impacted on their lives.

Chairperson of the Mayville CPF and eThekwini Central Cluster CPF Imtiaz Syed offered his condolences to the family.

"Satish was a legend in his lifetime. He was an activist of note who never sought reward or recognition. He never hesitated to help anyone who called on him for assistance in whatever way. He was a person who did what his soul told him to, and he was completely in touch with his noble and pure intention," he said.

Combined Community Watch's Domenic King said: "Rest peacefully, Satish. Nobody will ever come close to filling your shoes. Your legacy will live on in our memories for many years to come.

The family have said Dhupelia's funeral will take place on Monday at 5:30pm and it will be attended by close family.

The funeral will also be streamed on the Ghandi Development Trust Facebook page.

The family would like those who want to pay their respect,s to donate a sum of money, instead of sending flowers, to any charitable organisation for the poor, the homeless and any animal welfare society.

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