After more than 30 years of service to her community, struggle stalwart and community activist, Faieza Desai, has passed away. Desai the wife of high court judge, Siraj Desai, passed away on Thursday morning at the Melomed Hospital in Tokai, after succumbing to her battle with cancer. Desai (51) has been lauded for her staunch support of change in South Africa and for her efforts to transform the broader community of the Cape. Upon news of her passing, fellow community activists, political leaders and members of the broader community have lamented the loss of a woman renowned for her commitment to being of service to society.
Judge Desai has in recent days taken leave from the high profile trial of axe murder accused, Henri van Breda, many assuming that he was tending to his wife’s health after she was admitted to hospital two week’s ago.
Speaking to VOC News, director of the Palestinian Museum and family friend of over 30 years, Dr. Anwah Nagia, praised Desai for her dedication to political change, political formation, as well as for her role in promoting community wellness though various initiatives that she played an role in her later years.
While Judge Desai’s name is synonymous with social consciousness, his wife in her own right was known for her active and uninterrupted work within political movements, including the African National Congress and the New Unity movement.
“We will surely miss her contribution – she was a very dedicated person to every person that she has come across and we know how many lives she has touched and how many lives she has changed just by being a leader and being a person that is involved in a very conscious way,” Nagia stated.
“The ANC has expressed its condolences to Faieza’s immediate family, her dear children and all her close comrades and friends.”
The family suffered a loss only months ago with the passing of her mother, but due to poor health, Desai was unable to attend her mother’s funeral.
Desai stems from a family of activists from the community of Bo-Kaap, where her father was also actively involved in the spiritual upliftment of the community.
“Jannah tul firdous to our late friend and comrade, Faieza Desai, and we ask the Almighty to place sabr [patience] in the hearts of Siraj Desai, his sons and daughter, as well as in the hearts of the community.
“I think the kids will miss her fondly, because there was not a sport or academic institution that Faieza did not sit in the car and take Tariq, Azhar and Aneeqa to school. Her life was dedicated to the community, her family and her children – she will be fondly missed,” Nagia stated.
Meanwhile, ANC Western Cape secretary, Faiez Jacobs, conveyed the party’s condolences to the family on the passing of Desai, a stalwart of the United Democratic Front.
“Faieza was a leading stalwart for many years after its disbandment, continued to remain an activist in the ANC. The ANC in the Western Cape said she played a very important role in organising and working in the local civic association in Walmer Estate, in Cape Town. Being a nurse she led and participated in several health and wellness projects to the benefit of various communities. In addition, she was an active member of the Palestine solidarity movement and BDS campaigns,” Jacobs stated.
She was also the ANC’s elections coordinator in Woodstock during Mandela’s era and ran the process very effectively, added Jacobs. She had an immense passion for community health issues, in the field of occupational health and safety and worker’s health.
“She was a very feisty and militant woman,” said Jacobs.
“Faieza Desai made a valuable contribution in the liberation of this country and the ANC will always honor both her and her husband for the sacrifices they made to ensure that indeed freedom did come in our lifetime.”
Faieza Desai is survived by her husband judge Siraj, her sons Tariq and Azhar and her daughter, Aneeqa.
The janazah of Faieza Desai departed from her home in University Estate for the Tennyson Road Masjid on Thursday. She was laid to rest at the Mowbray Cemetery.
May Allah SWT grant her Jannatul Firdous, Ameen.