Member of the NIC and ANC. Assistant Secretary of the Natal Indian Farmers Union. Prisoner on Robben Island. Robben Island prisoner, in charge of the ANC farm at Chongella, Zambia, Assistant Treasurer of the ANC
George Naicker was one of six sons. He was born on 1 June 1919. He joined the Natal Indian Congress in 1941 and became an executive member in 1956 until his arrest on 1 September 1963. At that time George was detained for 55 days under the notorious 90-Day Detention Law and was subsequently charged in the Natal sabotage trial sitting at Pietermaritzburg and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment on 29 February 1964. He served his entire sentence on Robben Island. Upon his release, on 28 February 1978, he was banned for five years.
Apart from being a member of the Natal Indian Congress he also was the Assistant Secretary of the Natal Indian Farmers Union - a body representing the Indian farmers, particularly those in the banana industry.
In the 1950s he was a member of the Seaview, Bellair, Hillary and Umhlatuzana branch of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) together with Billy Nair.
George was a delegate to the Congress of the People in June 1955. He joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) around 1955 – 1956 when it was a banned organisation and membership was deemed illegal.
Prior to his arrest in July 1963, he was employed as a legal clerk at GS Naidu’s office in Queen Street. He studied law part-time. Often he would be found, on behalf of his African clients, at what was known as the Ndabazabantu, the Native Affairs offices where pass laws were administered.
In 1964, George, together with others, was charged with sabotage and sentenced to a 14 year term of imprisonment on Robben Island. Upon his release from the Island, he was subjected to further restrictions and house arrest on 28 February 1978. Notwithstanding these restrictions, imposed by the state, attorney Archie Gumede, employed him upon his release. According to Archie Gumede, it was George Naicker who took him to a meeting where the United Democratic Front was being discussed.
On Robben Island, George and Sunny Singh were responsible for news gathering, an illegal activity for prisoners. Yet, the two, at great risk to themselves, somehow managed to obtain newspapers and a radio in prison, under the noses of the warders, in order to keep abreast of the news. He was subject to the humiliation and indignity of a ‘straight jacket’ for some infraction on the Island, yet he never once betrayed his fellow prisoners. Whilst on Robben Island, his mother passed away and the authorities refused him permission to attend the funeral.
Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) intelligence structures outside the country found out that a police agent had infiltrated ANC/MK ranks within the country. As a result, it was decided that Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim (an MK member) and George Naicker had to be taken out of the country for their own safety.
George was taken to Lusaka, Zambia. He was attached to the Treasury Department, as the Assistant Treasurer under the Treasurer General, Thomas Nkobi at the ANC Headquarters here. He was put in charge of the ANC farm at Chongella, where Sahdhan Naidoo was the manager.
On 11 October 1982, George Naicker addressed the special meeting of the Special Committee against Apartheid in observance of the Day of Solidarity with South African Political Prisoners at the United Nations.
With the return of ANC exiles back to South Africa in 1990, George was charged with taking care of the assets of the ANC in Lusaka and elsewhere, during a traumatic transitional period, when some tried to personalise the organisations possessions. He remained behind at his post whilst many rushed south back home.
His will stated that upon his death, he wanted no ceremony and that his body was bequeathed to medical science.
George’s integrity was impeccable. He lived the life of a revolutionary with great distinction. George Naicker passed away on 8 April, 1998 at the ANC farm at Chongella, Lusaka, Zambia
• Statement by George Naicker at the special meeting of the Special Committee against Apartheid in observance of the Day of Solidarity with South African Political Prisoner from the ANC official website [online], available at: www.anc.org.za [accessed 19 October 2009]