Osman Latief, a resident of Vrededorp, Johannesburg, wrote on 17 August 1906 to the Chief Traffic Manager of the Railways. He insisted that the agreement arrived at between the British Indian Association and the railway authorities was not binding on him, and defends cogently his right to travel by any train between Pretoria and Johannesburg. Source: Gov.P.S. 151911906, vol. 951, Transvaal Archives.
I beg to express my thanks for your kindness and favour as indicated by your letter of the 13th inst. in allowing me to travel by the 5.5 p.m. train from Pretoria to Johannesburg. As regards the morning train of 8.35, I had the honour to receive a reply previous to this which is I regret to state not satisfactory. Your letter of the 19th July draws my attention to the communication with the British Indian Association and further states that the matter had been arranged and an agreement arrived at between the British Indian Association and the railway authorities to the effect that Indians can only utilize the guard's van of the train in question.
In reply I beg to state that in the first place the agreement was I am told a merely temporary one, secondly it is unreasonable to contend that a private accommodation between two conflicting interests[,] sprung out of racial prejudice, is in any way a bar against granting my claim to travel by any train I like.
I think myself that the agreement is not binding upon me, and I hope you will allow my right to travel by any train, a due consideration since my experience for the last 15 years has confirmed my opinion that a right not exercised for a certain period of time ceases to be a right. I should not therefore be asked to waive my right because others have done it. Besides you will allow me to state that this is not a mere matter of sentiment that urges me to put forth my claim so strongly before your kind consideration.
It is one which vitally affects my comfort, convenience and respectability but my freedom of trade indirectly.
I hope you will not foster such racial prejudice situated as you are over departments which are now more public than private but will renew the regulations of 1901, when all the Indians were allowed to travel by any train.