Hanover Park mourns the loss of Wanie

Ridwan Richards was a well-loved small business owner in Hanover Park.
From left are, Zubair Richards, Mavis Ngomana, Peter Anthony, Omar Salies, and Michael van Nelson. The Richards family handed out food in memory of Ridwan Richards, the owner of Wanie’s, who died of a heart attack.

The Hanover Park community is mourning the loss of Ridwan Richards, 57, who operated his small business for 40 years, with the principle of putting people before profits.

The popular owner of Wanie’s take-aways, died of a heart attack on Monday August 9.

Mr Richards was known for his generosity, he supported many non-profit organisations in the community, and never turned a hungry person away. He has been described as someone who took a real interest in his customers, knowing them by name, and often asking about the well-being of their families.

His son, Zubair Richards, said his father wanted to study at tertiary level, but this changed when his grandfather died and his father had to take over the business while he was in Grade 12.

“It was not an easy ride for my father. He was forced to take over the business, because my grandmother was in mourning and he was the eldest.

“My dad told us how, after he got married, our mother used to help push his car so that he could get to work – and she was pregnant at the time. He kept his prices low, because he felt that it was more important to serve the community and keep his customers happy. He was a one-of-a-kind person,” Zubair said.

Speaking about Mr Richards’ generosity, he added: “He would go out of his way to make you feel warm and comfortable. We are still in shock with all the people approaching our family to say how he helped them in their darkest times. He was somehow their light. We had no idea he helped so many people. He always told us that if you give a loaf of bread to someone, you might not see a loss of profit, but that the bread means the world to the person you gave it to.”

One of the shop’s regular customers, Clint Abrahams said Mr Richards was among the few people “who made a real and lasting impact on the lives of residents in Hanover Park”.

“No one else has fed more people, helped out more, gave more and seen more than Wanie. He was genuine. He was always the same. Always busy. He knew my children by name, and would always ask about them. He was proud of their achievements and felt our pain when we lost my mother and my nephew. Wanie left a legacy and foundation that we can continue to build on. He was blind to race, faith and political affiliation. He supported so many small ventures and never said no to our requests for donations.

“The Hanover Park terminus will never be the same without him. He was an anchor tenant who drew thousands of customers to other businesses around him. Wanie’s will live on for many decades to come, the food, the friendliness and customer care has become the gold standard for other small businesses in the area,” Mr Abrahams said.

On Thursday August 12, the Richards family handed out food to the community, in memory of Mr Richards.