MOHAMED AMIN MAYET
LAWYER AND BUSINESSMAN
Lawyer, businessman and respected community member
From his memorable upbringing in Evaton in the Vaal Triangle, to his successful law career and business pursuits spanning over 37 years, Mohamed Amin Mayet, a respected authority in the community, has a plethora of edifying life tales which have all been strongly influenced by his Islamic faith. We delved briefly into his life’s work and uncovered a few rousing snippets of sheer determination, humanitarianism, courage and fair play.
Born in Pretoria in 1953, Mohamed’s early years were positively steered by a strong sense of family and community. An only child raised in a privileged household, Mohamed’s family owned a general dealership called ‘Customer’s Friend’. His parents were never reluctant to help others and he grew up with the understanding that Muslims always assist others in need. He fondly recalls the camaraderie within the town of Evaton, a warm and compassionate community which lived simply and gave generously.
A notable influence in his younger life was a gentleman named Daya Gopal. His mentorship motivated the youth during the apartheid era, telling them there were no doors shut to their aspirations: “If you want to get something done, you can get it done.” He lists Sheikh Abdul Kader as another inspirational person who was most pivotal in navigating his path to an Islamic way of life and continues to apply his Islamic knowledge to economics and political matters.
Having completed his law degree through Westville University, then Unisa, Mohamed opened his criminal law practice in 1980. At that time in South Africa’s politically-stained past, it was difficult to join a corporate law firm. Indians had to explore entrepreneurship, so to generate a second income, he opened up his first KFC franchise outlet in Lenasia, Johannesburg. For seven years, Mohamed Amin worked seven days a week; lawyer in the mornings, franchisee in the afternoons. After securing reliable staff, he went on to open two more KFC outlets and had over 100 employees. Although he had refined his business skills, Mohamed’s interest in law never wavered. He mentions that while having a business is about making money, a law practice is about life and death. He pursued the latter to help people, however insignificant the case. After more than three decades of practicing law, Mr. Mayet reminisces about his most amusing case; a Kliptown man who was falsely accused of mistreating his horse.
He values the connection that Islam has with charity. In his younger years, he helped arrange fundraising movie nights to assist the Crippled Care Association in Evaton, and to this day, Mohammed Amin never falters in giving back to the community. When presented with a cause that he’s passionate about, he never hesitates to contribute financially to it, regardless of the sum. He also provides legal advice on the spot to those who can’t afford to pay him. As the chairperson of Dallas College in Cape Town (founded by Sheikh Abdul Kader), Mr. Mayet’s involvement with fundraising activities and bursary coordination for more than nine years has brought the vision of this small yet refined non-profit educational institution to fruition. He encourages his children as well as the Muslim youth to do good deeds without expecting to receive accolades because charity and social upliftment work should be done genuinely.
“Command the good and forbid the evil, that’s what Muslims are about”, he says. Mohamed is also fatigued by the bad publicity Muslims receive around the world. As an expert on South African law, he comments: “While you do come by the criminally insane, Muslims are not causing problems, it’s not our practice. We don’t have to defend ourselves all the time, instead we should highlight that we are law-abiding citizens and sound in our practices. We fall prey to believing the falsities out there and believe that we are terrible, but we’re not. We need to be reminded of that.”
He enthusiastically supports Proudly Muslims of SA: “We need to find all the positive things in our community and remind our Muslims of what we are; people who provide substantial assistance to those in need, whether they are recognised for it or not.”
His most valuable life lesson is in knowing oneself: “Just when you think you’ve made your own acquaintance, you learn something else. Things continuously change and you should always challenge yourself.”
His life motto is inspired by the Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson: “Ours is not to ask why, ours is to do or die.”
There’s so much to learn from the life lessons of this intriguing individual, but what stands out most is his fervent zeal and advocation for justice and humankind.
We look forward to your autobiography, Mr. Mayet.