Durban: Neville Pillay dreamt of being on radio since he was 4-year-old.
His wife Carol Pillay paid tribute to him following his death on Thursday.
He died from Covid-19 related complications.
Pillay, 45, of Phoenix, an actor, comedian and radio personalitym was known for stand-up comedy and as a radio presenter on East Coast Radio (ECR) and Lotus FM.
He also featured in four movies – Attack of the Indian Werewolf, Curry and Rice, 31 Million Reasons, and Kings of Mulberry Street.
Pillay said: “His career began in his 20s. His first job was at a community radio station and he went on to work at other stations, including at ECR, for 10 years. Neville began stand-up comedy in 2007 and his first gig was at the Supernova at Suncoast.
“Over the years, he met people from all walks of life and he managed to bring smiles and laughter to many. He was a brilliant, creative and passionate person. He gave his all for his fans. Neville was also strong and loving,” she said.
“He loved communicating with people and he could strike up a conversation with anyone. In fact, he could not take on a normal job outside the entertainment industry because he loved entertaining his fans. I can wholeheartedly say that Neville made the most of his life. I will miss my soulmate dearly.”
The father of three has been battling with ill health since 2018.
In October 2018, he suffered heart failure and in January 2019, he was diagnosed with kidney failure.
After becoming ill, he could not support himself or pay for his treatment. Fundraising events were held to assist Pillay to pay his medical bills. Hot 91.9FM in Johannesburg sponsored one year of medical aid, while Damon Beard of ECR did the Big Favour Drive to contribute to an eye operation Pillay underwent.
On September 11, he was admitted to Nu-Shifa Hospital with Covid. He videoed himself in hospital on September 17, saying that he was back in the hospital and that his oxygen levels had plummeted.
“I was not able to walk and talk. I was falling all over the place. I had to resort to desperate measures to try and sell the fridge that someone bought for me. But when they found out that I was selling it, they refused.
“It does not matter to them the reason I wanted to sell it. I am not proud of coming on Facebook and asking for help. If there were other means – like I used to go out and earn a living by performing and making people laugh – then I would be able to do it.
“Whatever help that you could offer me with just to pay for my medical aid, which covers my entire stay at hospital, dialysis and medication, will be appreciated. If you can assist with any amount, it will add to my treatment. I apologise for asking and begging for funds, but I have no choice. Where else do I turn to?” he had said.
Pillay is survived by his wife and three daughters. His funeral will be held today (Wednesday) at 11am.
Actor Vikash Mathura wrote on Facebook: “I will always remember your calls seeking radio advice, the jokes and banter we shared about the entertainment industry, the laughter that we enjoyed backstage. Always polite and respectful when we met. Always humble and down to earth.
“These are still rare traits among entertainers. That’s why you stood out. No more pain. No more suffering. No more sadness. No more tears. Safe in the arms of your Lord and Saviour. Your legacy in the entertainment industry will be remembered for a long time. Rest well now.”
Beard wrote: “So sad to hear that Neville Pillay has passed away. What an honour it was to have worked with him. A truly good guy with such a wicked personality. RIP buddy and my deepest condolences to your family.”
Kenny Maistry, a radio presenter and DJ, said: “Although we never met face to face, a few months ago we recorded a podcast together. He also sent some voice notes to my show on Radio 702, which I appreciated very much. Nevertheless, we were part of the South African Radio family. My deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans. You fought a tough fight Bru. Now rest well in eternal peace.”