Memorandum To The United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, June 1968

I. The South African Indian Congress has on many occasions broughtto the attention of the United Nations and its Member States thecondition of the people of Indian origin in South Africa and theimpact of the policies of apartheid on them. We have done so, however,in the knowledge that there can be no redress for the Indian communityin isolation.

II. The South African Indian Congress is a member of the CongressAlliance which is led by the African National Congress. The policyof the Movement is to eliminate discrimination and racialism in ourcountry and to establish a free and democratic South Africa for allour people.

III. The South African Indian Congress therefore wishes to addressitself to the Special Committee as an integral part of the LiberationMovement in South Africa. We draw the Committee's attention to theparticular impact of the policies of apartheid on the people of Indianorigin, but we seek support for action against the policy of apartheiditself and as it affects all the people of South Africa.

IV. Since members of the Liberation Movement last addressed theSpecial Committee, the South African Government has further intensifiedits oppressive policies and it is seeking actively to divide andisolate the various racial groups within the country.

V. The Committee is aware of the policies that claim to establish "Bantuhomelands" for the African people, and of the special systemof education that has been devised to create a subservient people.These policies are now being extended to the Coloured and Indianpeople.

VI. With reference to the people of Indian origin, the Governmenthas for example:

1. Intensified the implementation of the Group Areas Acts to coveralmost the entire country and the overwhelming majority of the Indianpeople. Figures published by the South African Institute of RaceRelations in 1966 revealed that in the Transvaal alone 87.62 percent of the total Indian population had already been moved, or werein the process of being moved, from their homes.

The self-professed aim of the Group Areas Act is to divide theentire country into racially exclusive areas. In its implementation,however, the authorities are aware always of the basic aim of Governmentpolicy, namely, to organise all institutions and development forthe maximum benefit of the white minority in South Africa.

Thus it is the non-white people who inevitably have to move whilstthe white communities remain settled. It is the non-white schools,cemeteries, mosques, hospitals, temples and homes that are forciblyevacuated, and the people moved like pawns into a bare wilderness.

Our people, after over 100 years of living in South Africa, arestill basically insecure. This insecurity arises from the fact thatwe are restricted in our choice of occupation, employment, education,trade and association. Added to the massive restrictions have beenthe recent clamp-down on professional people wanting to live andwork abroad. The ruthless and systematic implementation of the GroupAreas Act has resulted in the increase of suicides in Durban andPietermaritzburg. There are ten known cases of suicide which canbe directly attributed to the Group Areas Act. Social life has rapidlydeteriorated and has resulted in an increase in delinquency, gangwarfare and imprisonment for petty and large-scale crimes.

For an Indian, the right to travel from province to province forthe purposes of employment, study or holiday is seriously curtailedby the requirement of obtaining a permit. A permit for a limitedstay which can be refused, curtailed or extended is at the behestof a petty clerk with the result that thousands of unemployed Indiansin Natal are prevented from seeking jobs in other provinces.

2. The South African Indian Congress rejects totally any doctrine which claims that there should be a distinct education for each racialgroup. The experience of the introduction of "Bantu education" hasgiven rise to justified fears amongst our people that this is merelythe first step in introducing a system of indoctrination for ourchildren and isolating them within South Africa whilst denying themopportunities for fulfilment and development.

3. Established a South African Indian Council (formerly the IndianNational Council) which, it is claimed, speaks for the Indian people.

The South African Indian Congress categorically rejects this claim.

The Council is a puppet body established by the South African Governmentto lend semblance of democracy to its apartheid structure. Its membershave been chosen not by the people but by the Minister for IndianAffairs. Its functions are merely advisory and, even as envisagedin the future, its powers will be limited and subject to the vetoof a central government in whose choice the people have had no voice.

Not only is the Council unrepresentative of the Indian people,but it is based on the principle of separate representation, a principlewhich has been repeatedly rejected by the Indian community since1946, and which has been universally recognised as being contraryto democratic practice.

VII. The South African Indian Congress is a federal union of thefollowing organisations:

The Natal Indian Congress (founded in 1894 by the late Mahatma Gandhi);

The Transvaal Indian Congress (founded in 1903);

The Cape Indian Assembly (founded in 1949).

These member organisations have consistently represented the aspirationsof the Indian people. We are committed to the full equality of allthe people of South Africa, as enunciated in the Freedom Charteradopted at the Congress of the People in 1955.

The disciplined and persistent opposition of the South AfricanIndian Congress and its member organisations has led to many of itsofficials and members being banned, restricted, placed under housearrest or forced into exile. Many others are serving various termsof imprisonment.

Thus, though the South African Indian Congress is nominally stilla legal organisation, it has, due to the restrictions placed uponit, to all intents and purposes been compelled to operate illegally.

VIII. Nonetheless, the Indian community has expressed its oppositionto the Government's policies.

1. No recognised figure among the Indian people has accepted nominationto the South African Indian Council and the Minister for Indian Affairshas had to admit that he had been unable to obtain the support ofthe representative leaders of the Indian community (Speech openingdiscussion on establishment of INC).

2. In spite of the intensive propaganda efforts of the Governmentlisting the alleged benefits to the community of its apartheid policies,the people have refused their cooperation.

At every step they have resisted the establishment of a separateDepartment for Indian Affairs, and it is able to function at presentonly in so far as the people are forced to resort to its services.

3. Individuals have taken courageous stands and repeatedly resistedthe application of the Group Areas Act. Special mention must be madeof Nana Sita who has served three jail sentences since 1962 for refusingto move from his home in Hercules, Pretoria, which he has occupiedfor over forty years.

4. Despite police intimidation the schools have been a focus ofpolitical activity - with repeated demonstrations in support of arrestedteachers and political prisoners, and against government-organisedfunctions and policies.

5. Individual members of the community have joined with the Africanpeople in armed resistance, under the banner of Umkhonto We Sizwe.

Some of these are today serving sentences on Robben Island alongside our national leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki. One of the leading members of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress, Sulaiman "Babla" Saloojee, "committed suicide" while being interrogated by the Special Branch.

6. Last month a leaflet issued by Dr. Yusuf Dadoo was printed anddistributed widely within South Africa. A copy of the leaflet isattached as Appendix 1.

IX. The SAIC firmly believes that the problems of South Africa will be resolved by the people of South Africa themselves, under the leadership of the African National Congress. We believe, however, that the positive support of peoples and organisations outside South Africa can contribute to the liberation of our country, and we actively seek such support.

X. We have noted with appreciation the many resolutions adoptedby the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council referringto the situation in South Africa, and more particularly: the resolutiondemanding the release of South African political prisoners; the resolutioncalling for an arms embargo; and the resolution calling for sanctionsagainst South Africa.

XI. It is our view that a primary prerequisite for the developmentand expansion of the role of the United Nations in the deterioratingsituation in southern Africa is the rapid and complete implementationof the resolutions already adopted.

We are particularly appreciative of the concern and activitiesof the Special Committee and its aim of intensifying its effortsto promote an international campaign against apartheid.

The South African Indian Congress holds that this campaign canmost usefully be intensified in the field of seeking methods to implementthe existing resolutions and ensuring the adequate supervision ofthe compliance of member States with such resolutions.

XII. The need to implement the United Nations resolutions becomesmore urgent in the light of the militarily expansionist policiesof the South African Government. The threat to world peace is manifestin that Government's disproportionate expenditure on armaments, inthe presence of its armed forces in Rhodesia, its close militaryand economic ties with Portugal, and its threats of aggression againstthe independent State of Zambia.

XIII. The South African Indian Congress associates itself withthe submissions made by the African National Congress on the situationin southern Africa, and the urgent need for the United Nations toprevent the flouting of its resolutions by South Africa and by memberStates who continue their overt support of apartheid in defianceof the world community.

(Signed) Dr. Y. M. DADOO
South African Indian Congress

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

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