From the book: A Documentary History of Indian South Africans edited by Surendra Bhana and Bridglal Pachai

Act 35 of 1906, which dealt with hawkers' licences, operated in the Cape in much the same way as the Dealers' Licenses Act in Natal. The following document reproduces a memorial addresses to the Cape Governor in February 1907 by Pohoomul Bros., C.P Lucheram, L. Moolchand, Siroonul & Co. of Cape Town, G. Derail of East London, and Trikamdas Bros. of Port Elizabeth and East London. After the petition had been submitted, the Cape authorities issued licences to firms upon production of municipal certificates. Consequently that part of the Act referring to the refusal of licences in the name of firms was withdrawn. Source: G.H. 35/242, no. 258, Cape Archives.

1.That your memorialists humbly approach Your Excellency as the representative in this Colony of their Most August Sovereign, with the renewed assurance of their devotion and loyalty, to lay certain representations before Your Excellency in the fervent hope that you will be pleased to give the same your gracious consideration,

2. That your memorialists are the only Indian merchants dealing in silk goods, Oriental curios, objects d'arts, etc., in this Colony. Some of them have been established here for many years, bearing a high reputation as regards their special line of business, as also in their relations with the general public. That such business of your memorialists is an exclusive one, and is quite exceptional in its character when considered with other businesses generally followed by their fellow-countrymen in this Colony. That throughout the world, in the most important centres of population, only natives of Sind, Hyderabad, is today pursuing this particular calling, as is well known to all travelling people.

3. That your memorialists have been carrying on their business without let or hindrance in all parts of the world, the firm of Pohoomul Bros. being represented in many chief cities of the East and the West. That memorialists' have large and solid interests in this Colony, as in other parts of Africa, by reason of the full liberty and freedom which they enjoy under their flag - a, flag which they cherish as the dearest symbol of all that is fair and just in this world.

4. That your memorialists find themselves at present in a most cruel and irksome position owing to the operation of a most pitiless law, now enforced with the utmost rigour, regardless of consequences, and fraught with the most disastrous results to them. The law in question is not only hard on them, but is also pregnant with economic evil to the state itself, in that it involves loss of revenue not wholly trivial in its significance, and is sadly inconsiderate as to the needs and requirements of the community.

5. That your memorialists are not oblivious of the fact that laws are made for the general welfare of the community as a whole. At the same time, looking to the highest traditions of the English people and the ethics of civilization, it is never forgotten in the enforcement of a law applicable to one and all alike that vested interests require to be respected, and that interests that have involved large expenditure of money and human efforts should not be jeopardised and nullified.

6. That your memorialists in the prosecution of their business employ many assistants, who come to them from India under indenture. The maintenance of these men ”” their subsistence and wages, and their ultimate repatriation involve a large outlay. Many thousand pounds' worth of goods are stocked at the different centres of their operations in the Colony, which, unless they dispose of same, would mean utter ruin to several of them, if not to all.

7. That memorialists venture most respectfully, but earnestly, to represent that, in a question of the most vital moment to them such as this, it would appear the paramount duty of the State to give ample notice to all legitimate traders of the intention of the Legislature to enforce a law such as the one now in question. It is a matter of common knowledge that in their particular trade travelling is the chief medium of business, their salesmen being styled travellers everywhere. In view of this fact the consideration and adoption of an enactment affecting the grant of hawkers' licences at the eleventh hour by the Legislature, and its enforcement, so far as they are concerned, without due notice or warning is, they would with all due deference and respect state, hardly consonant with justice and equity and the ethics of good government. They beg to urge this point for Your Excellency's special consideration.

8. That memorialists, as soon as they became aware of the provisions of the new law, at once cabled to their different exporting centres to stop all further shipments. In reference to the question of loss to the colonial revenue they would mention that, besides paying customs duties on goods imported and consumed in this Colony, such duties are also paid by them in respect of goods that are imported and trans-shipped here from time to time to the German and other foreign possessions in this part of the continent, this being due to the fact that some of your memorialists have established central emporia in the Cape Colony.

9. Memorialists would respectfully urge for consideration that the law would appear to make an invidious distinction between one people and another, for in the district of Kimberley hawkers' licences are reported to have been granted to certain persons and not to others. Section 3 of Act no. 35 of 1906 clearly states that all persons who have previously held such licences would be exempt in their district - so long as they trade there from the provisions of the Act relating to the obtaining of a certificate. While section 10 distinctly lies down that licences upon municipal or other certificates mentioned in sections 5 and 6 shall thereafter be entitled to the exemption provided in section 3 in regard to successive annual licences applied for by such persons.

10.In the face of this clear exemption your memorialists are deprived of licences; and it appears a singular preceeding that, as far as Cape Town is concerned, licences cannot be granted in the name of a firm, while one or more can be issued in the name of one particular person. In respect of the whole Colony it would also be impossible to pay the requisite amount for licences, even if municipalities are prepared to grant them in every case, the fee being £2.

11.Your memorialists would also represent that in connection with a special department of business carried on in this city, chiefly by people of the Jewish persuasion, reasonable consideration has been shewn and concession granted, so as to inflict no injury or loss upon them ”” sufficient time being allowed to them to dispose of consignments ordered before the promulgation of the Act, so that their operations may diminish gradually, and cease in due course.

12.Your memorialists venture to suggest that, even if they are finally compelled to give up all business in this Colony, it will be but bare justice to them - (to allow of their final removal) to permit them to realise upon their goods by a continuance of their trading operations for a time, and ultimately to close down. This they think they will be able to effect within a period of eighteen months to two years from this date. They trust, therefore, that failing an open door, this concession would be granted to them, as a special consideration to honest, straight-dealing and long-established business firms. Otherwise, they would deferentially state, Government will be a party to a deliberate policy calculated to involve the most disastrous consequences to memorialists.

Your memorialists humbly approach Your Excellency with the strong conviction in their minds that, holding as you do an even balance of justice to one and all alike in this part of the King's dominions, you will graciously intervene on their behalf in respect of their present distressful position, so as to secure to them a just and equitable consideration of the foregoing representations, and accord them relief. And they further respectfully solicit of Your Excellency that every other moral consideration may be graciously extended to them in this portion of the King's Empire, an Empire based upon the fear of God, and endowed in a conspicuous degree with the highest attributes of justice and love to one and all without distinction.