JOHANNESBURG: Farook Khan (77), a prominent Indian-origin journalist in South Africa and cultural activist who received fame for his investigative reporting during apartheid, has died in his hometown Durban after battling cancer.
A journalist for six decades, Khan died on Thursday after being in hospital for the last three weeks. His last rites of Khan were performed on Friday.
Khan, whose ancestors were from Maharashtra, achieved fame for his investigative reports in various media that he worked for, often facing the wrath of the apartheid-era government and death threats from the underworld that he exposed.
Khan also started the Miss India South Africa Pageant as part of the Miss India Worldwide Pageant, which has seen hundreds of young women from the diaspora find new avenues for their careers.
In South Africa, after initial scepticism in a conservative community, Khan guided hundreds of girls and women to participate in this pageant and several other cultural events that he started.
"He was my oldest and most trustworthy associate of Miss India Worldwide, from among all the countries that now participate in our events, Dharmatma Saran, founder of the organisation, said.
"Farook bhai was associated with us for 29 years and had become part of our family, hosting the international Miss India Worldwide four times in South Africa and offered to host again in 2021 to celebrate its 30th anniversary," Saran added.
Farook along with his younger brother Aman Khan toured across South Africa with prominent boxer Mohammed Ali during the days of apartheid.
"Then it has to be the pride in seeing all these young South African women, many of them too shy to appear on a public platform, gaining the confidence to become leaders in the community," Aman said.
"Some of them are now in top positions across the world as medical and legal professionals, engineers, town planners, professors at universities and even pilots," he said.
Hundreds of journalists, who were mentored by Khan, paid tributes and scores of them attended the funeral as well.