Johannesburg: Jayraj Bachu, a founding member and national leader of South Africa’s only Hindu political party, has succumbed to COVID-19. He was 75.
The Durban resident Bachu was cremated on Saturday.
His son Umesh told the weekly Sunday Tribune that his father passed away less than a week after he was admitted to hospital after an antibiotics course failed to address an influenza infection.
Unfortunately, on Friday evening I received a call from the hospital to say he had taken a turn for the worse. They said two family members could go to the hospital, but by the time I got to the hospital my dad had passed on, Umesh told the weekly.
He was not at the stage where he was on a ventilator. Reality of the virus hits you when it happens close to home. It was devastating for my mom, myself and my siblings that we could not see him one last time at the funeral, he said.
Bachu had served in community and political organisations for over five decades. Last year, he joined others to register the Hindu Unity Movement (HUM) with the Independent Electoral Commission.
He explained at the time that HUM was established because there had not been a voice in provincial, national or local governments catering to the needs of the Hindu community.
Existing Hindu religious and cultural organisations are working from outside government to address the issues facing the community, but we need someone on the inside to get these addresses addressed effectively, Bachu said.
Bachu’s lifelong friend Ram Maharaj, who is the national chairman of HUM and also the president of the South African Hindu Dharma Sabha, said Bachu had endeared himself to the community because of his positivity and diplomatic approach to everything he did.
Maharaj said Bachu had led the fight since the 1980s to allow fireworks during Diwali when there were plans by government to ban its use at private homes.
Bachu is survived by his wife, Renuka, children Vinod, Umesh, Reshma Harinarain, Rinku Singh and a number of grandchildren.