Sam Draai

Born in 1922, in East Griqualand, Samuel Draai showed an enduring commitment to his country and community.  In his early life he served in the South African Navy during the Second World War. Upon returning to South Africa he settled in the community of Sydenham, where he was actively involved in the community for nearly 65 years.

Draai was a member of the Sparks Estate Community Centre management since its inception in 1958. He is most well known for founding the Durban Boys Brigade in the 1930s, which works on a similar basis to the Scouts, providing mentorship and creative activities for young boys in the community. This social movement provides mentorship and creative activities for young boys in the community.

His passion for youth development was rivaled only by his love for the Comrades Marathon. In 1964 he ran the Comrades Marathon for the first time – albeit unofficially as non-white runners were not allowed to participate – becoming just the second non-white runner to complete the race. In 1996 Sam requested that his unofficial runs between ’64 and 1975 be acknowledged, and that he be awarded his ‘green number’ for his eight silver and eight bronze medals. In addition to being a runner Sam also worked as a Comrades volunteer and official.

Sam Draai was recognised by his community for the countless acts of altruism he had shown over the past decades. He was also honoured at a Provincial Community Conference hosted by Premier Zweli Mkhize which awarded Stalwarts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Draai lived in Sydenham until his death on Sunday 31st May, fittingly the same day as the 2015 Comrades Marathon. He was a proud grandfather of eight and great grandfather to another eight. At the golden age of 91, he led the Durban Boys Brigade brass band on parades through the streets of Sydenham.