From the news desk

Tributes for CT icon ‘Mr Gangraker’

Well known Cape Town businessman Abdullah Gangraker passed away on Sunday, after an illness. ‘Mr Gangraker’ is considered an icon in the Cape Muslim community and was a philanthropist and multi-faceted man in business. His multi-million rand empire, the Wembley group of companies, including the famous Wembley Roadhouse in Belgravia road Athlone, has made him well known to the Muslim community in South Africa and abroad.

Besides his huge business interests, Mr Gangraker also played a profound role in the Muslim community. He was the trustee and founding father of the celebrated Masjidul-Quds in Gatesville.

Speaking to VOC News on Sunday, Sataar Parker, the chairperson of the masjid praised Mr Gangraker for his upliftment of the community.

“His loss is a deep sense of shock for me. I came into contact with him when we had the Gatesville Masjid plan. It was Mr Gangraker that gave us this land. We started with 800 people capacity and now 4000 people can worship here. He had the vision to see the mosque grow,” said Parker

Thorough his focus and success of his business, Mr Gangraker together with his wife carried out great charitable work and were known for their generosity – from building community halls, assisting orphanages, to social welfare for his family in India. He was remembered for his passion, hard work and his hands-on-approach to business.

“When Mr Gangraker finished schooling he inherited the Wembley Superette but he felt he needed to build on that. When people asked about his success, he always attributed his success to his mother and father whom he revered,” said Parker.

Tributes to the prominent businessman and community worker are flooding social media networks.

“I remember the very old houses on the property being transformed into the roadhouse and the other shops. Mr Gangraker was a most human of human beings and his generosity and compassion for his fellow human beings was unequaled. I remember sitting in his office one day in the early 90’s and talking to him about philanthropy and realized that he was streets ahead of me in his thinking. He was already quietly doing more than what most philanthropists were doing publicly,” said historian Mogamat Kamedien on Facebook.

“We honour you, sir and your family and the memory of all that you did for the City. May the City erect a monument in Athlone in your honour.”

“Under Apartheid, Mr Gangraker sponsored the famous Wembley Road mile and SACOS Games, the Olympic Games of the Oppressed. He went on to sponsor many events including the IPL and for its fifth year, The Rygate Cubs, an event made popular by the Wembley Group of Companies. Currently, it is the biggest football event for Cubs in the country. May the soul of Mr Gangraker rest in peace,” wrote Bennet Bailey.

“More than 30 years ago when Wembley Roadhouse opened, I was there for my whoppers and still today. I was honored protecting his properties, sat with him in meetings and giving advice regarding safety and security related matters.He was a great caring leader to the community and made time to listen with a big heart. I would visit him when in his wheelchair or just sit in his lovely garden chilling. Great business man and visionary,” said Randall Petersen.

In a statement, the UWC Christian Fellowship extended its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Gangraker.

“We are a group of not-so-young-anymore adults who frequented Wembley Roadhouse since the 1970’s and continue to do so. We cannot calculate the number of Wembley whoppers and excellent meals and delicacies we consumed there at this iconic venue. Even today we meet and share a meal in the garden next to the shop he kindly built. Indeed, he created an oasis to which many people from Cape Town are drawn to and who has matured all over the world. Bless him and his family and may we continue to feast and fellowship there,” said the group.

“Wembley to us will therefore always be more than an bakery, food store or roadhouse. It is and remains a unique place of fellowship, laughter and joy whom we share with our Muslim friends. It remains a place of many memories which we will cherish till we too pass on. He created a place where deep political debates, laughter and the beginnings of courtships began that resulted in so many marriages and lifelong friendships. He will not be forgotten”.

“His passing leaves us both deeply sad and fondly grateful of what he did for the community far far beyond the Cape Flats. His passing is mourning by this group in Cape Town, New York and Singapore and in many other places. May he rest in peace. May God provide his family and those dear to him with His comfort and peace.”

Mr Gangraker leaves behind his wife Fathima, one son, five daughters and many grand children.

Janazah salah was attended by thousands of people at Masjidul Quds on Sunday afternoon. Mr Gangraker was laid to rest at the Johnson Road cemetery. VOC (Nishta Sookdiyal)

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