Flower sellers market loses a bright blossom

Poppy Saliem at the Adderley Street flower market.

Family, friends and colleagues of Adderley Street flower seller Faiza “Poppy” Saliem, 69, are still in shock after her death on Thursday September 10.

Ms Saliem, also known as Auntie Poppy, died from a stroke after undergoing a mastectomy at Victoria Hospital.

Her son, Dawood Saliem, said she had been the matriarch of the family, someone everyone could draw strength from.

Selling flowers had been in their family for generations and many of his family members worked at the market, he said.

His mother had been selling flowers for more than 50 years and had taken over the business from her grandmother, Alice Williams, and he would take over from his mother, he said.

“I have been bitten by the flower bug and have been working with my mother for the past 20 years. I will continue her legacy.”

He described her as a kind and hard-working woman who had been able to weather any storm.

She had had a passion for the downtrodden, he said, recalling finding a homeless woman on the couch one evening at his mother’s Kalk Bay home.

“She had taken her in for the night and had given her a meal and made her a bed on the couch. She was such a giving person,” he said.

Her death, he said, had left a void in their lives.

Ms Saliem’s aunt and fellow flower seller, Fadwa Sasman, said her death had come as a shock and the flower market would not be the same without her.

She had been working with Ms Saliem for the past 20 years.

Ms Saliem had had many regular customers who had only bought from her, she said.

“She was great with her customers and knew them by name. She would go out of her way to help them. That is just the type of person she was,” Ms Sasman said.

She recalled how Ms Saliem would give her half of her earnings on days she had not sold any flowers and would then say: “Let’s go home and start again tomorrow.”

“I am really going to miss her and the talks we had. She was a good listener and counsellor, and she will be missed by everyone at the market,” Ms Sasman said.

Tributes also poured in on the Sisters on Adderley Flower Sellers’s Facebook page. 

Gavin Joachims wrote: “Poppy was one of the most beautiful souls. I bought from her flowers for many occasions: Mother’s Day and  birthdays and the list goes on. And on the day I asked my wife, Joy, to marry me, I went past Poppy to get a bounce. Poppy was very happy and excited for me. She put together the biggest bouquet and gave me the biggest hug. Rest in peace, beautiful soul. Love you, Poppy. Condolences and God’s peace.”

Ms Saliem’s husband, Alwie, died three years ago and she leaves behind her three children, Dawood, Jadiemah Ariefdien and Washiela Saliem.