Celebrating the life of Dr Max Coleman

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Kagiso Trust (KT/the Trust), Kagiso Capital (KC), Kagiso Trust Holdings (KTH) and its group of companies pay tribute to the immense contribution of KT Founding Trustee and Patron, Dr Max Coleman. His passing follows on so soon after the recent passing of another KT patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

A struggle icon and activist, Dr Coleman made an invaluable contribution to the development of the organisation from its inception in 1985, along with other stalwarts such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Beyers Naudé, Reverend Frank Chikane, Dr Allan Boesak, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Dr Abe Nkomo and Eric Molobi.

Dr Max Coleman

In 1985, the European Union agreed to impose partial sanctions on South Africa, and also decided through its Special Programme for the victims of apartheid to support projects that promoted non-racialism and capacity development among those disadvantaged by apartheid. It thus allocated development funds using three channels, namely the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the South African Catholic Bishops Conference and a third secular channel.

The third secular channel gave birth to KT on 10 July 1986. In a 2010 interview Dr Coleman described this formation: “Well, we can create one [third channel]. Let’s invite people from communities in South Africa and from anti-apartheid society. Let’s invite them. And so that was the way that Kagiso Trust was born. ‘Kagiso’ means ‘peace’.”

Dr Coleman and his wife Audrey were instrumental in forming the Detainees Support Committee to provide legal representation, food and clothing to detainees as well as to their parents. Instituted during the state of emergency, this critical work burgeoned, and extensive funding was required. The main source of funding came from the European Union, which was facilitated and lobbied in part by the KT.

Mankodi Moitse, CEO of KT remembers: “Dr Coleman and his wife Audrey have made an outstanding contribution to our country, recognised by our president in the awarding of the Order of Luthuli Silver Award in 2021. They were both honoured for their contribution to the fight for liberation and promotion of human rights. KT owes much to Dr Coleman’s wisdom and counsel.”

Kgotso Schoeman, CEO of Kagiso Capital and former CEO of KT says: “Max was a man of complete integrity. He cared deeply about humanity and supported those who did not have a voice. We must celebrate the life of a man who made such a difference in the lives of so many. I remember a lunch we had at the Parktonian Hotel where Max said that we should find a way to honour the legacy of Dr Beyers Naudé. It was at this meeting where the concept of the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme was born. From then on, Max found every opportunity to attend various infrastructure launches, initially in Limpopo and thereafter the Free State. He was exceptionally committed to the cause.”

During his tenure both as a trustee and patron, Dr Coleman had oversight of the immense growth of the organisation that he had helped to found. With the group holding key stakes in a variety of investment companies and spanning across various sectors, he was immensely proud of the progress made.

KTH CEO Paballo Makosholo also commented: “Dr Coleman will remain an intrinsic part of our history. His moral character and sound, ethical advice helped pave the way to where we are today. It is up to us to ensure that his legacy and vision continue to benefit future generations.”

Our sincere condolences go out to Mrs Audrey Coleman, her sons Brian, Neil, Keith and Colin and their families.

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