Dr Yusuf M. Dadoo's Statement In Court In Trial For Passive Resistance, June 1946

(Dr. Dadoo was sentenced in June 1946, at the beginning of the passive resistance campaign, to three months` imprisonment with hard labour. He had been charged under the Riotous Assemblies Act and pleaded guilty.)

Although I am pleading guilty against the charge I desire to make a statement to the Court in order to clarify the situation and explain my action.

I appear before the Court as a passive resister in response to the decision of the South African Indian Congress which totally opposes the Asiatic Land Tenure Act and resolved to carry out a Passive Resistance Struggle against the unjust Act.

It is in the carrying out of this decision for the removal of the difficulties of the Indian community and for the upholding of the honour of the Indians that we have launched upon this campaign by occupying a piece of land, land which was prohibited or restricted from Indian occupation by the new Asiatic Act.

In accordance with the code of the Passive Resistance we have committed a breach of the law in a passive and non-violent manner and are prepared to pay the penalty in full, but unfortunate incidents took place when there was organised hooliganism on the spot by mobs of Europeans. The Passive Resisters took no part in this at all but remained truthful to the rule of non-violence. We held to our duty without even raising a little finger in carrying out our struggle against this unjust, discriminatory and inhuman Act which we consider derogatory to the honour and dignity of the Indian community as a whole and to the Indian nation. This piece of legislation is against all the principles of justice, human decency and democracy. Even if, in the defiance of the Asiatic Act we are confronted with another law we shall carry on, for our purpose is not with this law.

Magistrate's Question

The Magistrate: "For what reasons are you not concerned with that other law?" (Riotous Assemblies Act).

Dr. Dadoo: "Because we are carrying out a campaign of Passive Resistance against the Ghetto Act and it is no fault of ours if the Government chooses to side-track the real issue and invoke the aid of the Riotous Assemblies Act.

"We shall continue carrying on the struggle against the Ghetto Act. Our struggle has the support and consent of the Indian people in South Africa, and is a struggle which has the widest support in India. We hope our action will show democratic-minded people all over the world that in discharging our duty as passive resisters, we are not only doing service to the Indian people, but that we are doing our duty to all true democrats and fighting for our rights in South Africa.

"To the Indian community I say that the struggle will be a hard one and a long one, but that should not daunt them; they should rally to the call and do nothing that will impair the self-respect and national honour of the Indian people. I hope they will continue their struggle with renewed vigour, but in a non-violent manner in keeping with their code of Passive Resistance and do what men and women have done in the war just concluded - a war that was fought for democracy and decency."

(Dr. Dadoo was then sentenced to three months` imprisonment with hard labour.)

Yusuf Mohamed Dadoo South Africa's Freedom Struggle: Statements, Speeches and Articles including Correspondence with Mahatma Gandhi

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