City legend’s shock demise

Mourners attending his funeral remained in stunned disbelief, that the feisty businessman, whose rags to riches story and his indomitable spirit, would eventually succumb to suicide.

The 69-year-old entrepreneur and property tycoon was found dead on Friday afternoon after he apparently committed suicide on a building site at the upmarket Victoria Country Club, where he resided and was in the process of developing two residential plots, unsurprisingly also the subject of on-going litigation between him and the estate.

Many of the mourners who braved the weekend’s bitter cold and rain to pay their last respects, said Gayadin’s colourful history was legendary, being admired and despised in equal measure by his supporters and detractors respectively with many of the latter finding themselves at the receiving end of either a lawsuit or some choice words delivered in a radio sound byte or newspaper quote.

Gayadin’s family had become alarmed on Friday when repeated attempts to contact him on his cellular phone went unanswered. Eventually Gayadin’s white Toyota van with his trademark NP 1800 number plate was reported parked on the road below the two properties he was developing at VCC. Gayadin’s son, Niresh, ventured into the site and found his dad towards the rear, next to the site shed. He had sustained a single gunshot wound and his 9mm pistol was lying next to the body.

Despite the shock, family do not suspect foul play as Gayadin had been battling clinical depression for a while.

“His death is a real tragedy for us but he battled a long term medical condition. We do not suspect foul play; however, we await the final outcome of the inquest. He will be dearly missed by his family. He will always be my hero,” said Niresh.

Much of Gayadin’s legendary status goes back to his rags to riches tale.

Born in Greytown in 1948, Gayadin left school at an early age to earn a living. He worked at Oxenham’s Bakery in Pietermaritzburg and then as a truck driver for Suncrush Coca Cola (as it was known then). While working as a driver, he would take on other work after hours to supplement the family’s income, including fitting peep holes on peoples’ front doors. He later resigned from Suncrush and set up an estate agency called Prestige Properties.

“He was dynamic, hard-working and was an instant business success. He became a household name for property in the city,” said Niresh. One of the landmark projects that Gayadin embarked upon was the development of Orient Heights.
In the early 1990s Gayadin was one of the pioneers in the gambling industry taking full advantage of the demise of apartheid-era legislation that had relegated casinos to the homelands. He set up a string of hugely popular casinos and entertainment complexes. His charisma and unique approach to business would have the crowds flocking to his casinos, with both his status and his wealth booming.

However, a change in gambling legislation placed him on the wrong side of the law and following protracted legal battles, the state eventually succeeded in shutting down his operations, seizing millions of rands worth of assets.

“My dad took on challenges and feared no-one. He always fought for what he believed was an injustice and took on those challenges legally. I really don’t know of anyone who had the guts to do what he has done. He was a great husband, father and grandfather. He was not perfect and he had his critics and everyone is entitled to their opinion of him,” explained Niresh.

Gayadin then turned his business focus on property development and show business, both of which suited his flamboyant character. He was cited as one of South Africa’s most successful show promoters, securing some of Bollywood’s biggest names to perform in SA. However, both his property development and entertainment businesses, were often embroiled in legal wrangles and public spats which played out in the media.

Some of  his notable court cases including challenging  SA movie baron Anant Singh’s purchase of the R75 million Natal Command site on the Durban beachfront  for a paltry sum of R15 million. Gayadin took the matter non appeal all the way up to the Constitutional Court where it was eventually ruled that he didn’t have the legal standing to bring the application.

Despite the setback Gayadin launched a similar High Court application against Msunduzi Municipality disposing of property to the Liberty Group for the expansion of the Midlands Liberty Mall. Gayadin wanted the land sold by public tender rather than private treaty, however the High Court dismissed the matter on similar grounds that the Natal Command objection was dismissed.

Gayadin’s most recent property development project was developing residential homes at the VCCE where he owned several plots. However, he clashed with VCCE management over estate rules triggering a barrage of criticism which eventually culminated in litigation between him and the estate’s board.

“My dad’s passion was property and he continued to his last day developing property. He was a man who never stopped working and I don’t think he would ever have been able to retire officially. He always fought against injustices believing that big institutions often override the interests of ordinary people. He was a hero for the ordinary man in the street, a hero for small business and he was my hero,” said Niresh revealing that his dad supported many worthy causes without seeking any publicity for.

Gayadin was also very vocal against poor government service delivery frequently writing letters to many newspapers expressing his criticism.


Public Eye Reporter

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