Veteran photo-journalist wanted Pietermaritzburg in the news

Shan Pillay

Shan Pillay

Published May 28, 2024


One of Shan Pillay's fondest memories was receiving a doctorate of letters (D Litt) in India in 2017 in recognition of his contributions to humanity. Up until his passing on Tuesday, Pillay, a photographer and veteran journalist, made it a point of keeping up with the latest news, alerting the press of any misgivings and wrongdoing.

The 88-year-old grew up in "the barracks" in Pietermaritzburg.

In an interview with Independent Media a few years ago, Pillay said that at the age of 15 he began working at the shoe factory before joining Jaguar Shoes in 1965, which he was eventually put in charge of and went on to become the director of production.

“I was the first Indian to assume that position in a white-owned company, which later was listed on the JSE. I was about 25 years old then,” Pillay had said at the time.

He received his first byline on the Golden City Post, while working at Sandals Limited.

“It was about a couple who awoke to hear their baby crying in the dead of night. A candle had fallen over and the curtains caught alight.”

Pillay had said he continued to gather bits and pieces of information, which he passed on to the Daily News, The Mercury, The Graphic and The Witness because he wanted Pietermaritzburg "to be in the news”.

He was reportedly placed on the newsroom diary at different papers until his big break arrived and he began writing for The Witness and later, the Sunday Times Extra.

Pillay's wife, Govindamma, died on April 17, 2010. They have two children, Nellandran and Pritha.


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