Teacher Des Francis met Nelson Mandela and fled South Africa to Zambia

Daily Echo: Dasingee Francis Dasingee Francis

TRIBUTES to a former Southampton teacher who died in a car accident have been led by his family.

Dasingee Francis, who was known as Des, was described as a well- known character who had spent many years at St Denys and Tanner’s Brook school before becoming a supply teacher in the city.

Des, 76, a grandfather of four of Southcliff Road, Southampton, died after a suffering a ruptured artery while driving as he was visiting family in Yorkshire.

His teaching career began in South Africa – where he was born in the Malay Camp slum of Johannesburg and where he became heavily involved in the anti-apartheid movement.

He became a member of the SA Indian Congress, a group affiliated with the African National Congress – the party led by Nelson Mandela, who Des met twice.

Just as he was about to embark on training with the ANC to take part in sabotage campaigns Des was linked to the discovery of a press on which he had been printing anti-government leaflets and subsequently his name was put on a “banned” list of people dangerous to the government.

As a result he began teaching in neighbouring Zambia where he met his wife Mary, who was originally from Southampton. Along with Mary’s daughter Pippa the couple went on to have two sons Shunmugum and Krishna.

While visiting his family in South Africa Des was arrested for crimes against the state kept in solitary confinement for 400 days and tortured, before Mary successfully campaigned for his release.

The couple then moved back to Southampton where Des continued his teaching career before retiring.

His son Krishna, 40, said his father would be remembered in the city by those he taught.

“He very much took the children he taught to his heart. He made everything in life a lesson and often used the children’s experiences, some of whom he came to know well.”

Krishna said his father could often be spotted driving around his beloved 2CV with cuddly toys attached to the bumper.

Des also enjoyed visiting the local tip where he could be found trying to salvage things that “might be useful one day.”

Friends and family are due to gather for his funeral at 3pm on January 14 at Southampton Crematorium.

Comments (26)

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7:21am Mon 6 Jan 14

freakout says...

Very sad trrue Gent ,Used to chat away when travelling on the buses here in Southampton .
Very sad trrue Gent ,Used to chat away when travelling on the buses here in Southampton . freakout
  • Score: 19

8:05am Mon 6 Jan 14

twarland says...

A fab teacher when I was at school ... A true gentleman also ... RIP Sir
A fab teacher when I was at school ... A true gentleman also ... RIP Sir twarland
  • Score: 21

8:26am Mon 6 Jan 14

Rlscann says...

Proud to have known him as a teacher at school, and he was still recognising me out of how many thousands of students and conversing up til recently almost 30 years later...a wonderful person, and a credit to Tanners Brook and Southampton.
R.I.P Sir x
Proud to have known him as a teacher at school, and he was still recognising me out of how many thousands of students and conversing up til recently almost 30 years later...a wonderful person, and a credit to Tanners Brook and Southampton. R.I.P Sir x Rlscann
  • Score: 26

9:38am Mon 6 Jan 14

tiger75 says...

He thought me at tanners brook middle school and i have lots of memories when I was in his class. I bumped into him a few years ago and he remembered my name and surname which took me by suprise must have been over 20 years after he taught me and considering all the other children he taught and people he met . He was a very friendly and chatty person and was genuinely interested on how I was getting on RIP
He thought me at tanners brook middle school and i have lots of memories when I was in his class. I bumped into him a few years ago and he remembered my name and surname which took me by suprise must have been over 20 years after he taught me and considering all the other children he taught and people he met . He was a very friendly and chatty person and was genuinely interested on how I was getting on RIP tiger75
  • Score: 22

9:49am Mon 6 Jan 14

vickyashley27 says...

R.I.P to a truely amazing teacher youll never be forgotten always in our hearts xx
R.I.P to a truely amazing teacher youll never be forgotten always in our hearts xx vickyashley27
  • Score: 20

9:58am Mon 6 Jan 14

CGlister says...

Mr Francis was a regular supply teacher at my school in the 90s and I always looked forward to his lessons (and his regular supply of sweets!). It is amazing to think that I was taught by him so infrequently but he still made enough impact to be remembered with fondness to this day. I am now a teacher and if I can become half as good as he was I will be very happy. R.I.P Mr Francis.
Mr Francis was a regular supply teacher at my school in the 90s and I always looked forward to his lessons (and his regular supply of sweets!). It is amazing to think that I was taught by him so infrequently but he still made enough impact to be remembered with fondness to this day. I am now a teacher and if I can become half as good as he was I will be very happy. R.I.P Mr Francis. CGlister
  • Score: 44

12:00pm Mon 6 Jan 14

hantslass says...

My grown up children thought a lot of him when they were children, and had a lot of respect for this lovely man , my son contacted my daughter with the sad news and she passed it on to me ,they are both feeling upset at this sad news, he was a lovely man ,R.I.P god bless
My grown up children thought a lot of him when they were children, and had a lot of respect for this lovely man , my son contacted my daughter with the sad news and she passed it on to me ,they are both feeling upset at this sad news, he was a lovely man ,R.I.P god bless hantslass
  • Score: 16

12:54pm Mon 6 Jan 14

EJ1990 says...

He was a lovely man! Used to brighten our day when he came in and had his photocopying done... RIP Mr Francis
He was a lovely man! Used to brighten our day when he came in and had his photocopying done... RIP Mr Francis EJ1990
  • Score: 14

3:15pm Mon 6 Jan 14

jofabulous says...

RIP Mr Francis. One of life's colourful characters. You will be truly missed, however I'm sure your legacy will live on through the thousands of students you taught over the years. It was a pleasure to have known you.
RIP Mr Francis. One of life's colourful characters. You will be truly missed, however I'm sure your legacy will live on through the thousands of students you taught over the years. It was a pleasure to have known you. jofabulous
  • Score: 13

3:37pm Mon 6 Jan 14

killthrill says...

God bless this man!
A true gent and his wife was also a fantastic teacher.
I remember Mrs Francis reading the adventures of huck finn
And the lion the witch and the wardrobe at st denys school
Mimicking voices of the characters.
There will never be another man like this man teaching in Southampton
My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time
I will be there to say goodbye at the crematorium .
Joseph Kelly
God bless this man! A true gent and his wife was also a fantastic teacher. I remember Mrs Francis reading the adventures of huck finn And the lion the witch and the wardrobe at st denys school Mimicking voices of the characters. There will never be another man like this man teaching in Southampton My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time I will be there to say goodbye at the crematorium . Joseph Kelly killthrill
  • Score: 12

4:42pm Mon 6 Jan 14

Michelle Francis says...

He will be dearly missed by all family and friends here in South Africa, a truly humble and generous soul, however Malaycamp was not a slum.
He will be dearly missed by all family and friends here in South Africa, a truly humble and generous soul, however Malaycamp was not a slum. Michelle Francis
  • Score: 14

5:47pm Mon 6 Jan 14

FightlikeBambi says...

This man was a teaching legend, a true individual. I have never been taught by someone so interesting and dynamic. He always made lessons fun and exciting. I will always remember him. xxx
This man was a teaching legend, a true individual. I have never been taught by someone so interesting and dynamic. He always made lessons fun and exciting. I will always remember him. xxx FightlikeBambi
  • Score: 12

6:57pm Mon 6 Jan 14

SOULJACKER says...

Such a shame.
He certainly was a lovely character around the Bevois Valley area that always spoke to anyone.
It'll certainly be strange not to hear his crazy old Citreon 2CV plodding round the streets of the Valley anymore as well.
RIP old fella.
Such a shame. He certainly was a lovely character around the Bevois Valley area that always spoke to anyone. It'll certainly be strange not to hear his crazy old Citreon 2CV plodding round the streets of the Valley anymore as well. RIP old fella. SOULJACKER
  • Score: 10

9:32pm Mon 6 Jan 14

Huey says...

Some very touching and beautiful comments and tributes
Some very touching and beautiful comments and tributes Huey
  • Score: 12

9:36pm Mon 6 Jan 14

little miss chatterbox says...

Mr Francis and his wife taught me at ludlow they were bothy fantastic, a bit wacky but they were so loved by all of us that he taught. R.I.P
Mr Francis and his wife taught me at ludlow they were bothy fantastic, a bit wacky but they were so loved by all of us that he taught. R.I.P little miss chatterbox
  • Score: 10

11:46pm Mon 6 Jan 14

chickyroc says...

Dear Mr Francis..
you never forgot a name and you always had time to stop and chat. You were my teacher at St Denys school. The only one that has stuck in my mind. Your way of teaching was pure brilliance.. you have left a legacy of heartfelt memories for everyone who knew you. I had the privilege of being one of those many. You were kind and thoughtful. So full of knowlage. A true gentleman. A legend. You will be missed dearly. Rest in peace and sleep well. Much love michelle x
Dear Mr Francis.. you never forgot a name and you always had time to stop and chat. You were my teacher at St Denys school. The only one that has stuck in my mind. Your way of teaching was pure brilliance.. you have left a legacy of heartfelt memories for everyone who knew you. I had the privilege of being one of those many. You were kind and thoughtful. So full of knowlage. A true gentleman. A legend. You will be missed dearly. Rest in peace and sleep well. Much love michelle x chickyroc
  • Score: 13

12:01am Tue 7 Jan 14

Hafod1948 says...

So very sad. This amazing man taught my daughter at Tanners Brook. She always said he was the most inspiring teacher she ever hand. So many owe so much to him. Rest peacefully now - a job well done.
So very sad. This amazing man taught my daughter at Tanners Brook. She always said he was the most inspiring teacher she ever hand. So many owe so much to him. Rest peacefully now - a job well done. Hafod1948
  • Score: 6

12:34am Tue 7 Jan 14

marineengine says...

Mr Francis was my teacher at tanners Brook in the Early to mid 80's
He was very into his photography and used to teach the students how he developed his photos. He turned the class stationary cupboard into a dark room. He had time for his students.
My thoughts are with his family and friends Mr. Francis was a great man.
P Newman
Mr Francis was my teacher at tanners Brook in the Early to mid 80's He was very into his photography and used to teach the students how he developed his photos. He turned the class stationary cupboard into a dark room. He had time for his students. My thoughts are with his family and friends Mr. Francis was a great man. P Newman marineengine
  • Score: 8

6:56am Tue 7 Jan 14

Kirsty666 says...

I remember getting taught by this true gent as did my older siblings an amazing man who will be sadly missed by all who knew him xx
I remember getting taught by this true gent as did my older siblings an amazing man who will be sadly missed by all who knew him xx Kirsty666
  • Score: 6

10:57am Tue 7 Jan 14

Brett73 says...

Deeply sadden to hear about Mr Francis. He was my teacher at St Denys School in 1983. He made everyday fun and interesting for a boy who didn't enjoy school. He had a true zest for life, a brilliant memory and always wore the biggest smile. RIP Mr Francis.
Martin Brett
Deeply sadden to hear about Mr Francis. He was my teacher at St Denys School in 1983. He made everyday fun and interesting for a boy who didn't enjoy school. He had a true zest for life, a brilliant memory and always wore the biggest smile. RIP Mr Francis. Martin Brett Brett73
  • Score: 9

11:14am Tue 7 Jan 14

Mikona says...

Such a lovely man, was always welcome in our Rodrigues household. Condolences to his family. RIP Mr Francis xx
Such a lovely man, was always welcome in our Rodrigues household. Condolences to his family. RIP Mr Francis xx Mikona
  • Score: 6

12:12am Wed 8 Jan 14

vickyashley27 says...

was sat thinking about the year mr francis taught me at school today brought back some fantastic memories i will truely miss him me and my whole family are sending out regards to his family at this very sad time one of my best teachers at school xx
was sat thinking about the year mr francis taught me at school today brought back some fantastic memories i will truely miss him me and my whole family are sending out regards to his family at this very sad time one of my best teachers at school xx vickyashley27
  • Score: 4

9:50am Wed 8 Jan 14

Gozza1 says...

I only met Des a couple of times, his wife and mine are friends, but he seemed very jolly and outgoing - many people clearly have fond memories of him. RIP Des and condolences to Mary and the family
I only met Des a couple of times, his wife and mine are friends, but he seemed very jolly and outgoing - many people clearly have fond memories of him. RIP Des and condolences to Mary and the family Gozza1
  • Score: 3

8:16am Thu 9 Jan 14

montecristosaint says...

wonderful comments , his family must be very proud, and he is a lesson to all of us. At the end of they day its not what you have in the bank that marks you out as a special person , but the impact you have on your peers and fellow travelers in life. This man obviously had it all in spades. How I envy him!! I never knew him although in years gone by I have lived in Southampton as a young man. RIP
wonderful comments , his family must be very proud, and he is a lesson to all of us. At the end of they day its not what you have in the bank that marks you out as a special person , but the impact you have on your peers and fellow travelers in life. This man obviously had it all in spades. How I envy him!! I never knew him although in years gone by I have lived in Southampton as a young man. RIP montecristosaint
  • Score: 4

5:49am Fri 10 Jan 14

ratface75 says...

R.I.P Mr francis what a legend. you were the most popular teacher in Southampton. other kids were jealous if you were in Mr Francis tutor group. we were all so proud to be in his class and privileged. thank you
R.I.P Mr francis what a legend. you were the most popular teacher in Southampton. other kids were jealous if you were in Mr Francis tutor group. we were all so proud to be in his class and privileged. thank you ratface75
  • Score: 5

11:15pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Bonnie.Ellis says...

I served him at work once and he was truly one of the most amazing people I had ever met. He stayed and talked to me for an hour or so during my shift. He told me so many amazing stories, he was on a day trip out with his wife and grandson. He was so sweet. I am most definitely saddened by this news; although I did not know him, I know he'll be missed.
I served him at work once and he was truly one of the most amazing people I had ever met. He stayed and talked to me for an hour or so during my shift. He told me so many amazing stories, he was on a day trip out with his wife and grandson. He was so sweet. I am most definitely saddened by this news; although I did not know him, I know he'll be missed. Bonnie.Ellis
  • Score: 0

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