By Peter Matambanadzo and Freeman Razemba
PROMINENT business mogul Sam Levy has died. He was 82. Levy died on Tuesday night at his Avondale home after a long battle with cancer. His son Isaacs yesterday said his father had been battling cancer for the past three years.
“He had the head and neck type of cancer for the past three years and had been undergoing treatment, but it got to a stage where he died last night from the tumor.”
Head and neck cancer refers to a group of biologically similar cancers that start in the lip, oral cavity (mouth), nasal cavity (inside the nose), paranasal sinuses, pharynx, and larynx.
It often spreads to the lymph nodes of the neck and this is often the first (and sometimes only) sign of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Isaacs described his father as a “self-made man who built a business empire from scratch”.
“He was a legend. A people’s man and will be sadly missed,” he said. Levy’s widow, Gloria, described him as a loving man who loved Zimbabwe. “He loved his country through and through and this was his place,” she said.
Businessman Mr Philip Chiyangwa described Levy as a business pioneer and a visionary who was his mentor.
“This is a very sad loss because he was also my personal mentor and a shrewd businessperson as well as a father,” he said. Sam Levy’s head of security, Mr Charles Kapfupi, described the businessman as a hard-working principled man.
“He was not a clock-watcher. He believed in working hard hence, his success,” Mr Kapfupi said, adding that he was one of the biggest land developers in Zimbabwe. One of Levy’s workers, Mr Adam Makorona, who served him for over 12 years, said he had been deeply saddened by the death of his boss.
A businesswoman said: “I knew him very well and he used to call himself ‘Kanyuchi’ (bee) because he used to say he knew how to make honey (money).”
Several people also expressed sadness in social media. One of them said, “A very humble man, I liked everything about him.”
In 1971, Levy’s wife Gloria was once quoted saying, “He is not the ogre most people think he is, really he is gentle-natured.”
Levy, the owner of the multi-billion-dollar Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale, among other business empires in the country, was born on October 9 1922 in Kwekwe and went to Prince Edward School.
In the 1960s, he was the founder and chairman of a large supermarket group, Macey’s Stores Limited, and by then he lived in Waterfalls. This saw him earning the nickname “Cut-price king”, when he started the supermarket business.
During that time, he also owned a fruit farm in Nyanga and a farm near Lake Chivero, where he was a pioneer breeder of beefmaster cattle. In September 1973, Levy bought Duly’s Angwa Street property from London County Properties for $1,5 million, which was reported to be the biggest property deal then.
The premise (now called Ximex Mall) was redesigned along American lines and it included a Macey’s discount store, butchery, bakery and other departments. Ximex Mall was bought by the National Social Security Authority about two years ago.
In 1975, Levy stood in the then Salisbury council elections and was elected councillor for Ward 8. During the same year, he introduced a new American cattle breed for the first time in Africa.
He once represented the then Rhodesia in three clay pigeon shooting internationals and won with national colours. In 1980, Levy won all the top prizes in the National Carcass competition during the four agricultural shows held at that time.
He is survived by his wife Gloria and four children —Julia, Isaacs, Maurice and Raymond — and seven grandchildren. Levy will be buried tomorrow at the Jewish Cemetery at Warren Hills.