Hollard Insure (and its broker community) has been rocked by the recent passing of company veteran Rafick Omar, a beloved figure who left indelible impressions of warmth and humanity on all those he met.
Rafick, who was Insure’s head of non-binder brokers in Johannesburg, passed away on 28 July 2021 following a short illness. A Hollardite for 29 years, he joined Federated Insurance in 1981 and worked for Fedgen, Fedsure General, Hollard Commercial & General, Etana and eventually Hollard Insure. (Hollard runs in the family, too; his brother Nash is the managing director of broker markets for Hollard Insure.)
Tributes for Rafick have flooded in, with many remarking on the respect he showed others – and which he commanded – as well as his friendliness and easy smile, his caring and support for others, his gentlemanliness, his love of lunching and golf, and his irrepressible sense of fun. And everyone had their nickname for him.
Rafick had been a lifelong friend to Abdul Ebrahim, Hollard Insure’s general manager for Gauteng. They grew up together, went to school together and worked together.
“Rafick was a very special person with a great personality and was loved by all. Once he got into your life, it was very difficult to forget those special moments he created. He was a person who was larger than life, well respected at Hollard and in the insurance industry not only for his charisma but more importantly for his insurance skills and knowledge. He was a legend in the industry.
“Having him around was always fun. He made light of many difficult situations, which filled our lives with laughter and fun. Lunches, golf, meetings and travelling will not be the same,” says Abdul. “With all the special memories that we were blessed with, he will never be forgotten. Long may your memory live on, Rafs, and may you RIP!”
“Raffles, I want to thank you for teaching me how to love. You loved everyone from deep within your soul. Regardless of race, religion or status, you taught me how it is possible to truly love your fellow man,” states Michael Nicolaou, head of binder brokers at Hollard Insure’s Johannesburg branch.
“You made your moments count and you could always be counted on. You never missed an opportunity to remind us all of our humanity and you always treated people with care and dignity, never forgetting to be compassionate to their situations.
“There are far too many memories to list, but what I can say is that you truly left a positive mark on everyone’s life. I will miss our lunches at Soul Souvlaki, and the enthusiasm that you approached everything with. I’ll see you down the road, my friend, with a cold Fix and a meze platter for two, in sha’Allah (God willing).”
“I owe part of who I am and my success today to you, Rafs, and wish I could just thank you for being you!” says JP le Roux, team leader: broker consultant at Hollard Insure in Johannesburg, describing Rafick as a “sterling, sterling person” who had lived life to the fullest.
“If ever I wanted a supporter in my corner, Rafs, you were there – one of my biggest supporters, always spurring me on to be the best version of myself. A true humanitarian with a heart of gold, truly put on Earth to serve people, you would have given the last piece of your clothing on your back for your compatriot!”
JP adds that “in between, you always had a naughty side to you and always liked to be the centre of attention, and people were just naturally attracted to your charisma.”
Both JP and Anton Lategan, assurance specialist at Hollard Insure, note Rafick’s love of golf, a game he had latterly taken up. Anton, who first worked with Rafick at Fedgen in 1996, remarks that he “was no master of the game but thoroughly enjoyed it and was so willing to learn”, and recalls the first time they played around together.
“He had one of my old drivers in his bag but was reluctant to use it as he did not always have the courage to take a swing with it. He just loved the beautiful black and bright green colours and was looking forward to the day he could hit a decent shot with it in my presence. I was also looking forward to such a day,” says Anton.
Anton was also struck by Rafick’s courtesy: “Although never expected of him, we mostly chatted in Afrikaans; he just wanted to do it that way … the friendly, considerate, gentleman Raffles way! I will miss the legendary Raffles and so will his loved ones, friends and colleagues – rest in peace, my friend!”
“Raffs was the ultimate BC – broker consultant – he excelled in so many different ways,” says Paolo Cavalieri, chairman of iTOO Special Risks. “A gentleman, proud of the role he played, conscious of his status as a senior statesman in our business, he carried it well. Loved by the ladies, always correct, and respected by all in our industry.
“From his impeccable dress sense, cufflinks included, to those sharp eyes and warm smile, Raffs would always light up the room.”
Paolo remarks further that “Raffs had been around the block many a time; his experience, expertise and manner made him a winner. Nothing was ever too much for him, a family man to all who were close to him. We are grateful for the time together but much poorer and sad for this loss that has come so very prematurely.” He adds as a footnote: “And he supported Manchester United.”
Selven Govender, executive head; consumer & commercial at Marsh, comments on Rafick’s ability to combine the professional and personal, saying: “Rafick, affectionately known as Raffles or Rafs, was more of a friend than a colleague. I knew Rafs for over 20 years and his work ethic was unparalleled, but it was his bubbly personality that he was well known for.
“Rafs had an infectious smile that would light up a room, and he always seemed to be in a good mood. He was always the life of any party and people were always drawn to him. He was one of the few people who was able to balance effective work relationships with very strong friendships. I will miss his witty humour, infectious smile and sincere demeanour. Rest well, my friend!”
Econorisk account executive Priscilla Ross, who wishes that Rafick’s ability to make people feel special could be bottled, wrote a moving tribute to him on her Facebook page: “I am heartbroken and will miss you always. A true friend for most of my adult life. Generous to a fault, with a wicked sense of humour. I pray that there are golf courses in heaven as I know you still had many games to play.”
In tribute to Rafick, Nash comments on the love others have expressed for his brother – and the pain of his loss.
“It is truly so heartwarming to listen to so many of our friends and colleagues talk about Rafick with so much of love and affection, and the unique relationship he shared with each one of us.
“As an older brother, it was a privilege to have spent our lives together and worked together for almost 30 years. Rafick’s passing has left such a void in my life; I feel so empty and filled with such sadness,” says Nash.
“Having you as a brother was a phenomenal privilege and honour that I shall forever be grateful for. We were to each other the best of friends all our lives, and now you’ll go on living in my heart. The sweetest thing that God has done for me was making you my brother.
“So rest in peace, my dear Raffie, and rise in glory until we meet again. My love for you will also remain timeless and evergreen.”
- Rafick Omar is survived by his wife Tasneem, and children Sherbanu and Goolam Mustafa, as well as his brother Nash and their siblings and families