As South Africa mourns the death of anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, it is a double blow for Capetonians who have been left shocked by the sudden passing of pro-Palestinian activist Dr Ebrahim Akoojee. The well-known medical doctor died in Surrey Estate on Monday evening at the home of close friend Haji Yunus Allie from the Al Quds Foundation, of which he was a trustee since the establishment 10 years ago.
Speaking to VOC News, Al Quds Foundation director Maulana Igsaan Hendricks said while Dr Akoojee had been a brilliant doctor, he was a passionate advocate for the Palestinian struggle.
“We have a lost an icon…a great friend, father figure and a community activist,” he said.
His last moments
For Hendricks, Dr Akoojee’s death was all the more painful as they had been together at a dinner with a Turkish and Palestinian delegation in Surrey Estate last night. Hendricks described Dr Akoojee’s last moments.
“We had supper at the house of Hadji Yunus Allie with the delegation. What was very emotional was that we discussed the conditions prevailing Masjidul Aqsa and Shaykh Raed Salah’s visit to South Africa and his great leadership to the international Muslim community. When I looked at him, his face was filled with nur,” he described.
“Five minutes later, he left the table to make a telephone call to seek assistance for a Palestinian student living in Cape Town. Shortly after the call, Dr Akoojee collapsed.
“At that moment, a Palestinian doctor called Dr Malik was with us and he did his utmost to resuscitate him. We rushed Dr Akoojee to hospital and shortly afterwards, he passed away.”
Ironically, Dr Akoojee, was also the medical doctor of Ahmed Kathrada. Little did anyone know that Kathrada would see his demise a few hours later.
“Part of the conversation last night was Dr Akoojee’s concern around the health conditions of Ahmed Kathrada. Allah SWT has decreed that within hours, both of them would depart.”
Despite his busy schedule as a medical doctor, the Palestinian issue remained foremost in his mind. Hendricks said the doctor was instrumental in many of the mass pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Cape Town, including the historic 2014 protest for Gaza.
“Dr Akoojee always represented the Al Quds Foundation when we made applications for the authorities for permission for the marches. Dr Akoojee was also the medical doctor who prepared thought-provoking slogans for the marches,” he said.
“Many times, he would sit in the garage of Hadji Yunus and write out the slogans. He was always on the truck of the marches and he would assist anyone who required medical attention at the protests.”
Hendricks spoke fondly of their visits to Palestine and their meetings with Shaykh Raed Salah, the leader of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Occupied Palestine.
“We travelled to the Palestinian refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila and we have many stories to tell.”
Dr Akoojee extended this dedication to the wellbeing of the Palestinians in Gaza and other occupied territories. He selflessly facilitated the transfer of numerous humanitarian relief missions and the exchange of various dignitaries between Palestine and the rest of the world.
Pro-Palestinian activist Dr Anwah Nagia described Dr Akoojee as an “intellectual giant”. He praised Dr Akoojee for fighting the cause of the oppressed and linking the Palestinian issue to that of human rights. Nagia spoke about their family ties to their days in District Six and lauded the Akoojee family’s progressive stance on politics in South Africa.
“Two weeks ago we met to discuss some projects for the Palestinian Museum and we remember his work for the Al Quds foundation. We have lost a son of the soil of South Africa and someone who had a made a huge contribution to the fight for Palestine. We salute our comrade Kathrada and comrade Akoojee.”
Community activist Taj Akleker said the legacy of selflessness, humanity and dignity of Dr. Akoojee “stretched way beyond his calling as a medical doctor”.
“Dr Akoojee was a solace to those who were in pain, a philanthropist to those in need, a voice of the voiceless, a vocal and vigilant activist in support of the palestinian cause, uncompromising in his faith and values. In our personal relationship over many years, he will always be remembered for his commitment to serve humanity in countless ways. This profound and noble attribute was part of his daily purpose,” he said on social media.
“Dr. Ebrahim Akoojee was more than special, he was larger than life itself, whilst we are mouning his loss lets also spare many thoughts to his family, his beloved wife, sons and grandchildren. May Allah Almighty grant our beloved Dr. the highest abode in Jannah, Ameen. May Allah Almighty place sabr in the hearts of his beloved family and all those who knew him, friends, professionals and all those who sought his compassion when in pain and discomfort locally and internationally. This short note simply does not do justice to the iconic peronality of Dr Ebrahim Akoojee, in fact there are just no words to discribe our own beloved “pappa”. To best remember Dr. Ebrahim Akoojee would be to emulate his sterling example of being an ambassador of justice, faith, values and humanity. “From Allah Almighty do we come and to Allah Almighty is our return””
The Islamic Medical Association (IMA) said Dr Akoojee personified the qualities of a good Muslim doctor with his compassion and dedication for the wellbeing of the countless families in his care over the past four decades of clinical practice.
“Despite his busy schedule he still had time for his family, friends and colleagues. Ebrahim hailed from White River in Mpumulanga and often shared anecdotes of his family from this beautiful part of the country,” said the association.
“Dr Akoojee will be remembered as a kind, gentle and selfless being. May Allah be pleased with him, Ameen.”
Dr Ebrahim Akoojee’s janaza takes place at Surrey Estate Mosque after Asr this afternoon. The Janaaza will progress to the Pooke Rd Cemetery thereafteer.
May Allah SWT grant the deceased a high place in Jannah InshaAllah and place sabr in the hearts of his family and children, Ameen. VOC