ABDULLAH ESHACK GANGRAKER, well-known Cape Town community leader and businessman, has died yesterday at the age of 72, after a short illness.
Mr Gang, as he was affectionately called, masterminded the Wembley Group of Companies, which is famous for its Roadhouse and Wembley Whopper in Belgravia Road, Athlone.
He was one of the great community leaders in the area in which he grew up. (In the feature photo above, he can be seen second from the left.)
Opposite the Roadhouse in Athlone are two big blue buildings. The blue building on the Belgravia Road side used to be the Congregational Church School, where Mr Gang started his schooling with a diverse group of pupils of different faiths and different backgrounds.
From there, he moved to Sunnyside Primary School (within walking distance from the church school) before completing his education at Alexander Sinton High during the early 1960s, at the time when Mr Franklin Joshua was the principal. Mr Gang would have attended Sinton when it was still in Buckley Avenue, near the mosque in St Athens Road, Athlone.
He was acknowledged on more than one occasion on The Sintonite and Athletics Clipboard Facebook pages for his contribution to the community, especially the Wembley Fun Run which he sponsored to the tune of R70 000 for three successive years during the late 1980s.
A student, Sheila Wilton, who was at school with him during the 1960s, wrote in one such acknowledgement:
“Our much-loved and much tormented classmate, ‘Gang’. As teenage girls, we were so horrible to him and yet he was always so even-tempered. His advice to me in a memory book was ‘Get thee to a nunnery’ – I still have it! Good Sinton days.”
About six weeks ago, I had a chance meeting with Mr Gang in the parking area of Wembley. It was early on a Sunday morning (15 May 2016) and I was on my way to church.
He was in a wheelchair and greeted me with a firm, warm handshake.
In his very polite manner, he said “you can park anywhere”. It was not the first time he said that to me or any other Sunday worshipper – the Gleemoor Congregational Church is nearby.
That was the start of a conversation that could have lasted all day.
I was, of course, on my way to worship service.
But before I could go, Mr Gang detained me for a few minutes to chat about Sinton. It was then that I mentioned Sheila Wilton and his eyes lit up.
He said that she should come over for a cup of tea, but I explained to him that she had moved overseas. He then panned his eyes across the parking area, like a camera lens would at an athlete, and I excused myself – I was running late!
That was the last time I saw Mr Gang.
Yesterday, after leaving worship service, I found it odd that his wife, Fatima, overlooked the misty parking area all by herself.
It was business as usual. And yet, it wasn’t.
Mr Gang is survived by his wife, son and five daughters.
He will be sorely missed by the entire community.
May God grant him a high place in paradise!