A TRIBUTE TO THE GROUP’S FOUNDER, DR A M Moolla (1909 – 1980)

Dr A M Moolla passed away in 1980. His life combined the qualities of an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and politician. For most of his life, he worked for the welfare and upliftment of all race groups in this country. Starting out at the age of fourteen as a clerk, having left school in standard four, he took control of the family business, Mahomed Ismail & Company, then trading in groceries and thereafter in textiles. In 1955 the company diversified into clothing manufacture with the establishment of Kingsgate Clothing Manufacturers. This was the start of the Group, one of South Africa’s clothing giants.

Dr Moolla was known as a just man with a compassionate heart, a decision maker with the ability to recognize talent and to delegate and to reward merit. His executives and staff regarded him as a mentor and father-figure and his door was always open to them. Dr Moolla entered public life in the early forties and held office in many organizations. Having received very little formal education himself, he worked tirelessly foreducational opportunities for others, playing an important part in establishing educational institutes and scholarship trusts. He played an important part in establishing the Orient Islamic Educational Institute and the Indian Centenary Scholarship Trust and served as Chairman of both organizations.

In 1959 he established the A M Moolla Charity Trust, which was made a partner in the Kingsgate Clothing Group. While the capital investment remains with Kingsgate, the profit derived from this investment annually is distributed for welfare, educational and social causes.

His contribution to the welfare of all communities and his acknowledged leadership in educational, social, religious, political, economical and industrial spheres, became a legend in his own lifetime.

In 1978 the University of Durban-Westville conferred upon him an honorary doctorate in commerce for his contribution to commerce and industry.

He was an ambassador of South Africa in many parts of the world. We can all be justly proud of him.”Mr Marais Steyn, former Minister of the then Indian Affairs.

He was a born leader of men who took a leading position in all the directions to which he applied his talents.” Mr W J Schroeder, former regional representative of the then Department of Indian Affairs.

Dr Moolla’s own words form a fitting epitaph to a life of service: “If I can serve my country and my people in the field of human endeavour, then I do so unhesitatingly with only one object in mind, the reward and satisfaction of having served”.