Suleman Bux, 76, who at that time ran a small general store in Ixopo town, had forgotten about the young man with whom he had struck a deal to be a good student by giving him groceries for his family so that they could save what they would have spent on this for his studies.
Recently-appointed Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Judge Raymond Zondo, 57, recalled how he had sceptically approached Bux when he started his studies in 1981, unsure of whether he or anyone else would give a loan to a 20-year-old man.
Without telling his family, Zondo approached Bux, who helped him with groceries for his family. After he began earning, Zondo tried to repay Bux but the shopkeeper, who is still running a wholesale store, told Zondo to rather finance some other young students.
Zondo explained that he had been doing so ever since he finished his degree, inspired by his own experience with Bux, helping students with a range of financial difficulties to pursue their studies.
Zondo met with Bux and his extended family to thank him personally. Bux shrugged off the huge media attention. "He gave me a very nice watch, which was very generous. I was moved by the gesture," Bux told local media, adding that he had not expected the issue to have received as much attention as it did.
"I helped him because it was the right thing to do. As a Muslim, helping others is important, but you do it because you want to, not because you want recognition and for everyone to know," Bux added.