In 1885 thirteen Gujarati Muslims (known at the time as 'Arabs') who were trading in the Orange Free State petitioned the Legislature respecting the disabilities imposed by an 1884 Ordinance. They wished to be classified as citizens, not as 'coloureds' (which at that time meant blacks). Source: V.R. Annexure to Minutes, vol. 4, no. 277, 1885, pp. 166-8.
1.That the undersigned are all traders in the Orange Free State and therefore they pay their licence fees, like all white traders, to the Government.
2.That the undersigned are regarded as coloureds under Ordinance no. 18 of 1884, and are compelled to pay each 10s. head tax; this they have done under protest.
3.That the undersigned do not regard themselves to be coloureds and therefore should not be subjected to head tax.
4.That the undersigned believe that your Honour, after having received this explanation, will not be unwilling to withdraw the said Ordinance insofar as it concerns Arabs.
5.That the undersigned are classified as citizens in all other countries; even in Natal where the coloureds are restricted, they are not treated equally with the coloureds, however, they are treated like Europeans; they have the right to vote and have the right to become landowners.
6. That the undersigned in this State furthermore represent the traders class, and that they favour the inhabitants greatly by the reasonable prices at which they sell their goods.
7. That in all civilized parts of the world the nation, to which the undersigned belong, is highly rated and that several of their compatriots have accepted honorary titles from England, amongst which as far as the memorialists know, one of their compatriots whose name they do not exactly know, was elevated to nobility under the title of Sir.
8.That it is therefore most humiliating for their dignity to be classified and as it were to be equalled with the coloureds.
9.That they favour the State as much as possible through transactions with the different banks and by making use of the postal coaches, etc....
10.Finally that the undersigned respectfully request that your most august Volksraad will repeal article 22 of Ordinance 13 of 1834, in so far as it is relevant to Arabs.