Tributes for ‘the people’s pharmacist’

Popular Athlone pharmacist Farouk Osman, 57, succumbed to Covid-19.

It’s been several weeks since Farouk Osman lost his battle with Covid-19, but people are still paying tribute to the man known as “the people’s pharmacist”.

Mr Osman’s Anchor Pharmacy in Athlone drew clients from all over Cape Town but especially those who could not afford medical aid.

He was a graduate of the University of the Western Cape and opened his pharmacy in 1989. Over the three decades, Mr Osman’s work extended beyond being just a pharmacist, and he delved into alternative therapy.

According to his cousin, Haniefa Osman, he successfully treated many people with his alternative therapies.

“He was passionate about healing people with a special focus on pain relief. Those who benefited most were the poor and the desperate who could not afford medication and treatment. Farouk also made creams for various skin problems which people came for from far and wide. Many of his loyal customers are feeling lost without him. They don’t know anyone else who could do what he did.

“He was a healer, not merely a pharmacist. Often, when the doctors and hospitals had no answers, Farouk would find a solution. There are many stories of him helping people for no money at all. His words were often that, ‘If people are suffering and I don’t help them, who will?’ He was a person who put people before profit, and he is sadly missed by all,” Ms Osman said.

His friend and customer, Nur Karbaray, who is a manager of a store near the pharmacy in Athlone, said Mr Osman had been his doctor, confidant, pharmacist and mentor.

“It is because of him that I had not been to a doctor in 20 years. I have known Farouk for 25 years. Above the great work he did, he was kind-hearted and generous to a fault. I have learnt so much from him, and his passing leaves a massive void. I still can’t get over it,” Mr Karbaray said.

Ms Osman said the family continued to receive tributes weeks after his death on Thursday September 3 at the age of 57.

“We keep hearing new stories every day of his generosity and kindness. Aside from his work, he was the most loving and lovable human being. He was funny and super intelligent. He was boisterous and felt like he was everybody’s friend. The loss we feel as his family and friends can only be stemmed by the gratitude we feel to have been blessed to know him.”

Fazal Osman said his brother had been sick for six weeks.

“We didn’t think it would be that bad. When he was admitted to hospital on the Tuesday, the doctor told us he would be home by that Saturday, but then he took a turn for the worst.

“My brother was very down-to-earth, and not materialistic at all. He drove the same car for 12 years. People from all walks of life came to his pharmacy. Sometimes people would carry patients into his pharmacy. He became very popular with his alternative treatments. He did amazing stuff. To him it was all about just helping people. He mixed his own ointments that were not available anywhere else. Now he is gone with all that knowledge.

“He read a lot and was knowledgeable about a broad range of topics. He used to follow up with his patients and called them to hear if the treatments worked. People stood and cried in the pharmacy when they heard of his passing. I still can’t believe it,” Mr Osman said.

Lorraine Mshumpela referred to Mr Osman as her saviour.

“Just a few weeks before his death, he helped my daughter and me. Doctors at Somerset Hospital also told my son there is nothing they could do more for him, but Farouk healed him. I believe he was a spiritual healer. He was really gifted. He was like a brother to me. He also allowed me to buy on credit, and I will honour my debt I still owe him. He was an honest and good man. I don’t think I can go to Athlone soon again. It is just so painful.”

Another customer, Rodney Meyer, said Mr Osman had been a professional who had lived his religious ethos of being there for the poor.

“He had so much compassion, empathy and patience. He would go the extra mile for people and nothing was ever too hard for him. He was gentle and always had a smile. He was also very family-orientated.”