New head of District Six Museum dies of Covid

Siddeeq Railoun

The head of the District Six Museum has died of Covid-19 less than four months after he was appointed.

Siddeeq Railoun 60, took over from Bonita Bennett as the museum’s executive director in May, and he died on Monday August 23.

Chrischené Julius, who was interim director before Mr Railoun joined, said the museum was shocked and saddened by his death.

“His tenure at the museum was only three months, though during that time he brought his 28 years of experience in organisational and business development to bear on growing the capacity of staff and building relationships with new partners and friends,” she said.

He had wanted to connect the museum more closely to education and programmes in other parts of Africa, she said.

“He was always enthusiastic, jovial and was greatly inspired by the potential of the museum.”

Mr Railoun was born in Woodstock and lived in Surrey Estate.

During the forced removals under apartheid’s Group Areas Act, Mr Railoun and his family were moved to Bonteheuwel.

Chairman of the District Six Museum board Judge Siraj Desai said: “The District Six Museum board wishes to extend our condolences to the family of Mr Railoun. He will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family, and we ask that you keep them in your prayers. In the time that Mr Railoun spent at the museum he made a tremendous impact.”

Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais said Mr Railoun had made a significant contribution to the museum in his short time there.

“With the vision to place the facility on the international stage, Mr Railoun indeed laid the foundation for the museum to contribute to the global educational redress of ’struggle’ challenges experienced across the world,” she said.

The District Six Working Committee (D6WC) co-chairperson Zahrah Nordien said it was sad to lose another great man of vision and character in District Six.

“Mr Railoun had a long-term vision for peace and reconciliation in District Six and had been looking forward to fostering dialogues between community stakeholders, and this was a vision the D6WC supported.”

Ms Julius said the museum board had yet to decide on who would take over as executive director in the interim.

Ms Julius said Mr Railoun’s family were not ready to speak to the media.

His janaazah took place at Saturn Close in Surrey Estate on Monday afternoon August 23.

Mr Railoun is survived by his wife, Malikah, and son, Adam.