Radhakrishna Lutchmana "Roy" Padayachie was born on 1 May 1950. He attended Tagore High School in Clairwood, Durban and then went to study for a B.Sc. degree at the University of Durban-Westville (now University of KwaZulu-Natal). He went onto to complete his B.Sc Masters degree at the University of London.
Padayachie joined the underground African National Congress (ANC) in 1972. He worked as a microbiologist at Reckitt & Colman in the 1970s and then joined Shell Chemicals as a research chemist in 1979. During this time, he worked underground as an ANC operative and an executive member of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC).
In the 1980s, he established the Chatsworth Early Learning Centre in Chatsworth (CELC), Durban, where he was the Director. The centre provided pre-school education for children in the township. Through the CELC Padayachie promoted parental and community involvement in Early Childhood Development. The CELC pioneered the playbus concept, which served poor communities by bringing educational play facilities in a bus that was converted into a mobile classroom. Later, Padayachie extended this to include an outreach programme to provide similar educational facilities in the neighbouring townships of Lamontville and Clermont. He was also instrumental in training a large number of pre-school teachers from Umlazi and KwaMashu townships.
Padayachie served as an executive member of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and an executive committee member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in KwaZulu-Natal. He worked to link local civic issues with political issues. In 1983, the apartheid government announced plans to co-opt the Indian and Coloured communities into the apartheid system. The NIC mobilised opposition and Padayachie played an important role in organising the UDF structures in Chatsworth.
He commenced his community organising work in Croftdene, Chatsworth and helped form the Croftdene Resident’s Association (CRA), a powerful organisation that took up local issues. He also played a leading role in forming the Chatsworth Housing Action Committee (CHAC), an affiliate of the Durban Housing Action Committee (DHAC) that built non-racial unity in the struggle for decent housing. Padayachie was in the forefront of numerous campaigns of the community’s struggles in Chatsworth.
Padayachie was a member of the ANC KwaZulu-Natal negotiating team at Congress for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) in 1991.
After the dismantling of apartheid, he worked as a business consultant, he strove to champion the small, medium and micro enterprises until he was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications in April 2004.
Between 2004 and 2009, Padayachie served as Deputy Minister of Communications of South Africa. As Minister of Communications, Padayachie as was well on his way in turning around the directionless Department of Communications, the moribund SABC and public broadcasting in South Africa, dealing with dilapidating parastatals such as Sentech and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa). Also from 2009 until 2010 he served as the Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration.
Padayachie also put renewed effort and bigger focus from government behind South Africa's lagging switch to digital terrestrial television, a process known as digital migration, ending uncertainty when he announced DVB-T2 as the digital television standard for South Africa. He served as Minister of Communications from 2010 to 2011. In 2011, President Jacob Zuma appointed Padayachie as Minister of Public Service and Administration.
Padayachie passed away on 4 May 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he was attending a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
President Zuma said, “We have lost a worker, an academic, a cadre and a soldier for a better South Africa, may his family be consoled by the work he has done for the country and its people,".
Roy Padayachie is survived by his wife Sally and daughters Vindea Naidoo and Trevana Moodley.