Farewell to the epitome of a gentleman
WHEN Sivalingam Perumal (Thomas) Naidoo passed away peacefully on March 12, he left a legacy in the banking world, his church and the community as a whole.
During his lifetime, he received numerous awards for being the top student at the Institute of Bankers and for being a top performer in the country as a banker.
Starting out in 1969 as an administrative clerk at Standard Bank, he rose through the ranks to become the firm’s provincial director of retail banking in Kwazulu-natal and the Western Cape.
He was the first non-white director and Ombudsman at Standard Bank – the latter a position he held until his retirement in 2011.
After retiring, he joined Barclays Africa/absa as their customer dispute adjudicator (Ombudsman).
He was a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers of South Africa and served as a member of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and the Marketing Federation of South Africa.
In 2002, he was invited by the Reverend Jesse Jackson to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange and had the privilege personally funded the Silvanus Naidoo Primary School in India to better the lot of the impoverished in India. In South Africa, he assisted various orphanages, oldage homes, schools and hospices to obtain sponsorships and donations, both in his personal capacity and as a respected member of a financial institution.
He furthered his studies in the UK at Ashridge Management as well as at Templeton College, Oxford.
As a dedicated member of the Christian Indian community, he served as a deacon, Sunday school superintendent, cell group leader, treasurer, intercessor and in other capacities in various Christian organisations and boards. He lent his support to those in the ministry, missionary and outreach work, both nationally and abroad.
His daughter, attorney Melissa Vivette Lachanna-naidoo, sketched a vibrant picture to the Sunday Tribune Herald of a loving family man.
“My dad often shared stories of his humble upbringing, the hardships endured, and yet he always emphasised the joy of simple living in his childhood,” recalled Lachanna-naidoo fondly.
It was those many life lessons passed down from their father that taught her and her siblings to value and appreciate the little things in life, which would stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. She believed that the diligent, dedicated work ethic and loyalty which her father brought to his career had been passed on to him by his own father.
“My grandfather held down the same job, that of bus inspector, for his entire life. Up until the age of 79, he was still attending work at Dass buses (in Durban).”
Naidoo’s career with Standard Bank up until his retirement, she believes, reflects how he followed in his own father’s footsteps of loyalty and steadfast dedication.
A man of great integrity, honesty and dignity, he was nevertheless a firm, no-nonsense, by-the-book, strict father – the Godappointed head of his home.
But he was also a parent who loved adventure and excitement. “On holidays, he would take us to game reserves, resorts or the beach, both nationally and abroad. He planned holidays months in advance. He really loved to travel and wanted to expose us to everything that South Africa had to offer,” said Lachanna-naidoo.
No public holiday passed without a unique outing.
“My father wanted us to experience all the opportunities he never had. He took us to places where he never could go as a child – a chance to learn and experience something new and to appreciate South Africa.”
There were overseas holidays, too, and when the grandchildren came along, Naidoo was in his element.
“He loved being around his four grandchildren, and planning long, fun-filled vacations, the most memorable one being to Disney World, Florida. They were first and foremost in his life, and he loved interacting with them on all levels. He spent many hours trying to impart to them all the gems of wisdom he had acquired during his lifetime,” she said.
“My dad was spiritually minded and dedicated to God, to his family and to his career. He was very grounded in the Christian Indian community and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. In all this, he was strongly supported and encouraged by my mother, his confidant, personal adviser, best friend and darling wife.
“Despite all his accolades, he remained humble and revered a quiet and private life.”
Perhaps the physical image she will always carry with her is of a handsome, well-groomed, charismatic ‘people’s person’, always dressed immaculately in a suit and tie.
“He was an absolute gentleman,” said Lachannanaidoo.
Thomas Naidoo’s parents, Perumal and Nagamma Naidoo.
Thomas Naidoo, left, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson and an unidentified woman at the New York Stock Exchange.
Thomas Naidoo (second from right) with King Zwelithini, an unidentified woman and former deputy mayor Logie Naidoo.
Thomas Naidoo with former president Thabo Mbeki.