Indian South Africans Timeline: 1950-1959


A.K.M. Docrat, a popular activist, was named under the Suppression of Communism Act. He was jailed for thirty days during the 1952 Defiance Campaign and detained under the State of Emergency in 1960. He was first banned in 1962. From 1978 to 1990 he was bound by the restrictions of his 1950 listing.


May, Walter Sisulu believed that ‘whatever the tensions between Africans and Indians, it was the racial propaganda of the Nationalists that had aggravated the situation.’ During a visit to Natal in May 1951, Sisulu addressed a rally in Cato Manor alongside Chief Luthuli. Sisulu was anxious to emphasise Indo-African unity and was ‘dismayed by the attitudes he encountered in his discussions with African National Congress (ANC) branches in Natal. ” Some took pride in the 1949 riots.’ He was amazed by the view among some that because whites had defeated Africans there was some justification at accepting ill-treatment at their hands. ‘Indians had never defeated Africans and had no right to look down on them’, Sisulu said.

26 September, In spite of stating publicly that he was not a communist, Dr Monty Naicker was served with a banning notice in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act (1950). He wrote to the Minister of Justice on 2 October 1951 denying allegations that he had been an active supporter of the Communist Party and requested that the Minister let him have full particulars of the evidence on which allegations were made.

18 December, A confidential police report dated stated that the police were unable to find evidence to substantiate the allegation that Dr Monty Naicker was an active supporter of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) even though he addressed its meetings at Red Square. But in spite of its own assessment clearing him, the Ministry replied on 28 December that Dr Naicker had been banned because he had addressed two CPSA meetings in May 1950 which were chaired by A.W.G. Champion and where he shared the platform with the likes of Harry Gwala, Dr James Sebe Moroka, and Moses Kotane. The meetings were called to protest the Unlawful Organisations Bill and Group Areas Bill. Dr Naicker responded on 8 January 1952 that the evidence did not in the least substantiate any charges against him that he was a member or office bearer of the CPSA


22 June, around 10 000 people attended a ‘Day of the Volunteers’ rally in Durban where Chief Albert Luthuli and Dr Monty Naicker publicly committed themselves to the Defiance Campaign .


5 May, Dr Monty Naicker was charged with ‘promoting feelings of hostility between the European inhabitants and the non-European inhabitants of the Union’ and banned from the magisterial districts of Pietermaritzburg, Dundee, Newcastle, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, East London, and the Cape for one year. The Minister reached this decision ‘on the basis of a confidential dossier’ which described Dr Monty Naicker as ‘a very active agitator with strong communist sympathies.’

June 1953, Three hundred Indians were fired and lost their homes at the Magazine Barracks for participating in a strike. When Indian workers went on strike at Frame (Consolidated Textiles Mill) in 1956/57, several hundred were replaced with African labour; an agreement to settle the strike introduced African - Indian racial employment quotas.


The Indian High Commission in South Africa was closed in 1954.

9 July, Chief Luthuli opened the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) conference in Durban and two years later on 12 October 1956, Dr Monty Naicker, in turn, delivered the opening address at the ANC’s congress in Durban on 16 December 1954, but his banning meant that he could not be present. He sent a message regretting missing the historic occasion as he ‘would have liked to have sung with you the songs of freedom, led by Chief Luthuli, and to hear his voice which has moved so many in so short a time.’

1 November 1954, Even though Dr Naicker had forced the Minister to concede that he was not a communist, when his first banning order expired, he was served with another two-year order. Attorney J.N. Singh, acting for Dr Naicker, wrote to the Minister on 6 December 1954 to provide reasons for the banning, but in spite of several reminders, the Minister only replied a year later on 6 December 1955. He quoted from Dr Naicker’s speeches between 1946 and 1954 to argue that cumulatively they ‘vilified’ whites as oppressors of blacks, and incited blacks to resist white rule, which made him guilty of furthering the objects of communism.

7 November, with the coming into being of the Congress of the People (COP), Dr Naicker addressed a joint meeting of the ANC, Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and Congress of Democrats (COD) at the Gandhi Library in Durban to rally people for the COP

16 December, Dr Naicker delivered the opening address at the ANC’s national congress in Durban


When India secured the exclusion of South Africa from the Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Nehru took Moses Kotane and Moulvi Cachalia along as observers.

28 August, After delegates returned to Durban, from the Congress of the People (CoP) at Kliptown, there were report-back meetings. A meeting of the NIC at Bharat Hall in Durban approved the formation of a National Joint Consultative Committee to popularise the Freedom Charter. The ANC adopted the Charter at its March 1956 Congress.

28 September, Dr Monty Naicker is elected president of the SAIC. Still banned, his messages of support and defiance were read out at the annual conference of the NIC on 22 June 1956, and the SAIC conference held between 19 and 21 October.


4 April, Manilal Gandhi passes away after illness.

5 November, Dr Monty Naicker issued a statement criticising Britain and France over the Suez affair.

25 November, As soon as his banning order ran out, Dr Monty Naicker took to the platform at the Bolton Hall when he launched a virulent attack on the Group Areas Act, and called on the community to unite against it.

5 December, 155 activists belonging to the Congress Alliance were arrested in coordinated raids across the country

6 December, Hassen Mall established the Civil Liberties Committee to raise funds for the defence of activists in the 1956 Treason Trial.  Speakers included Florence Mkhize, Hilda Kuper, and Alan Paton.


22 November, At the NIC conference, Dr Monty Naicker used loopholes in the system, such as speaking through a proxy.


21 November, Dr Monty Naicker’s Presidential Address to the NIC conference, in absentia, he remarked that the 1956 treason trial ‘perhaps more than any other factor has brought South African democrats closer to each other.’ He suggested that mixing with his African, White and Coloured counterparts, and engaging in serious discussion, gave them a genuine sense of non-racialism

27 April, The first steps were taken towards commemorating the 100-year arrival of Indians in South Africa, at the Radakrishna Hall, in Carlisle Street, Durban. An Indian Centenary Committee was formed with Dr Monty Naicker as President. P.R. Pather was chairman, H.H. Dhupelia and J.N. Singh were secretaries, M.D. Naidoo was the organising secretary, and A.M. Moolla, T.N. Bhoola, and R.M. Naidoo were treasurers. The committee, which was inclusive across the religious and political spectrum, committed itself to getting public input on whether the commemoration should be ‘celebratory’ or reflect the troubles of Indians. The composition of the committee was remarkable, with old moderates like P.R. Pather and A.M.Moolla, who had regrouped into the Natal Indian Organisation (NIO), joining with their arch rivals in the NIC.

14 May, the 14 May 1958 edition of Indian Views carried a story of ‘alleged moves’ by a ‘militant faction’ to oust Dr Monty Naicker. M.P. Naicker was named ‘leader of the militant faction.’  The NIC dismissed this as rumour-mongering.

26 June, A rally at Curries Fountain drew 15 000 protestors and was the largest single protest against the Group Areas Act. It was organised jointly by the NIC, NIO, and Durban Combined Indian Ratepayers Association. Aside from political and civic leaders, leading religious figures addressed the meeting. Indian schools closed for the day as did businesses to allow employees to attend but it was an almost all-Indian protest.


17 June, Whenever Dr Monty Naicker’s ban was lifted, he immediately plunged into public life. He addressed a meeting of African women members of the ANC in Durban, which called for a beer boycott.

26 June, Dr Monty Naicker addressed a mass meeting at Curries Fountain organised by the NIC, ANC, and South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) in support of the potato boycott, which he called ‘not only a political issue but a moral issue as well’. He told a Freedom Day Rally the following day in Pietermaritzburg that ‘no amount of gagging and banning will stop our movement.’

9 October, Dr Monty Naicker addressed the annual congress of the NIC.  In his speech to the annual congress of the NIC he said that ‘since freedom is indivisible, there can be no freedom for white South Africa with the result that there is now the manifestation of a more democratic outlook in quarters where none existed before. The conscience of white South Africa is astir and we welcome this development.’

12 December, Dr Monty Naicker addressed the ANC Congress at Curries Fountain where he warned that to achieve ‘our objective tremendous sacrifices will have to be made’.

23 December 1959 - 2 January 1960, Dr Monty Naicker and the NIC organised a “Freedom Fair” at Curries Fountain.

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