A shopkeeper’s act of kindness 38 years ago spins off to assist many more

Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Ray Zondo visited his hometown and recounted the role that shopkeeper Solly Bux had on his life – and about the Zondo and Bux Educational Trust formed to help others, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

An Ixopo shopkeeper’s act of kindness towards a student he helped 38-years ago has led to the establishment of a trust fund to benefit pupils from poor families requiring funding for education in the little Midlands farming town of KwaZulu-Natal.

That student is today the renowned Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa, Judge Ray Zondo, 58, who has teamed up with businessman Solly Bux – the man who helped his family during his student days – to establish the Zondo and Bux Educational Trust.

Last week Judge Zondo and his wife Sithembile, together with trustees of the trust fund, visited two schools in the Ixopo area, the Amazabeko High School and the 93-year-old Emazabekwini Primary School, which are benefitting from the Trust.

Many of the locals turned up to give the judge and his wife a warm welcome. They excitedly chattered and proudly reminisced about how a small town boy had become one of the most powerful and respected personalities in South Africa.

The Chairman of the Trust is Suleman Bux; Vice Chairman: Judge Raymond Zondo; Secretary: Shabir Chohan (of Al Baraka Bank) Trustees Sithembile Zondo and Mohamed Bux.

During his tour of the two schools that benefited from the trust funds, Judge Zondo said: “I came back to take further the message that Mr Bux gave me, namely to do for others, what I have done for you, and I am grateful that Mr Bux continues do to his philanthropy work.”

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was thrust in the limelight last August after President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him to head the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption related to the influence that the Gupta family had on the Jacob Zuma government.

The Commission is currently hearing sensational evidence into state capture that is unveiling the extent of corruption in recent years.

Judge Zondo said the benevolence of shopkeeper Solly Bux has helped him succeed in his career.

When Zondo matriculated, he received a bursary to study law – but he faced a dilemma knowing there would be no one to take care of the needs of his mother and siblings. He went to see Suleman Bux, owner of Kwa Moosa Wholesalers and explained his situation. The shopkeeper instantly promised to help his mother with groceries on a monthly basis for three years while he was at university.

When Zondo completed his law degree, he went back to Solly Bux to discuss repayment, but the shopkeeper replied: “Just do for others what I have done for you,”

When he was being interviewed for the Deputy Chief Justice post, Judge Zondo recounted tearfully about the help that he received from Solly Bux.

The story didn’t end there. In October 2017, the Women’s Cultural Group in association with Albaraka Bank hosted a dinner to get the Zondo and Bux families together. At that dinner, it was mooted that a bursary fund be set up to assist historically-disadvantaged pupils who might be in the same boat in which Judge Zondo found himself so many years ago. At that dinner over R250 000 was raised and led to the formation of The Zondo and Bux Educational Trust. When the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT) was approached to chip in, they wasted no time to make a donation of R1-million into the trust fund, part of which was used to build infrastructure at both schools.

During his tour of Emazabekweni Primary School, Judge Zondo and his wife were pleased to see that money from the trust had been used to erect a hall and the establishment of a borehole. At Amazabeko High School, he was pleased to see that a borehole had been dug and proper toilets for teachers and learners were built – a far cry from the pit toilets that had was used for decades.

The visit brought back memories of his schooling years – and he got the opportunity to meet old friends too. Judge Zondo said he was deeply grateful to all the benefactors for their “assistance to these two schools which serves the community of Emazabekweni in Ixopo where I grew up.”

His last words were: “This is the community that made me what I am. It’s wonderful to come back home when you have good news to share with people,” Judge Zondo said with a smile.


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