Indian South Africans Timeline: 1970-1979


HA Naidoo passes away while still in exile.

17 February, African Peoples Democratic Union of Southern Africa (APDUSA) members, Armstrong Madoda, Gaby Pillay, Morgam Moodliar and Sunny Venkarathnam are detained under the Terrorism Act. After a long period of solitary confinement they were formally charged on 16 June 1971 with conspiracy to overthrow the state, recruiting members for the armed struggle, and falsifying reference books


M.P. Naicker did a sterling job as a journalist and editor of Sechaba and the International Organisation of Journalists (OIJ) awarded him a gold pin in 1971 on its 25th anniversary 'to recognise the services rendered to peace, freedom and democracy by Sechaba.'

25 June, Mewa Ramgobin initiates a meeting at the Bolton Hall, Durban to revive the Natal Indian Congress (NIC). An executive was elected under the chairmanship of Ramgobin.

August 1971 to July 1981, Fatima Meer a Sociology lecturer at the University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal –UKZN) and national president of the Black Women's Federation before its banning, was served with successive banning orders that lasted from August 1971 to July 1981. While she was given permission to lecture, her academic writings could not be published. Her passport was withdrawn in 1975 and permission to accept a lecturing fellowship in London in July 1976 was declined.

2 October, despite opposition, the NIC was revived, and within a month the new committee established 29 branches all over Natal and scheduled a convention for the official launch. The venue and date were symbolic — it was held at the Phoenix Settlement, established by Gandhi, with whose birthday it coincided. Two weeks before the conference, Mewa Ramgobin received another five-year ban, and missed this historical moment.  He was replaced as president by George Sewpersadh who, in turn, was banned in 1973.


Phyllis Naidoo, MD Naidoo's wife completes her law degree. She served articles and had to apply to the Supreme Court in 1972 to be admitted as an attorney. She worked for Archie Gumede from 1973 and was involved in the 'Harry Gwala Ten Trial' from 1975.  This drew attention from the security police, and Phyllis Naidoo was forced into exile.  With the help of people like Dr Suleman Ismail and an anonymous woman from Clermont, Phyllis made her way to Ficksburg, then Orange Free State, where she 'waded across' the bridge.  Rick Turner, who was assassinated by the South African regime in 1978, mapped her trip to Lesotho, which required her to cross the river at its narrowest point.


30 April, The long banning period endured by Dr Monty Naicker  finally came to an end. Dr Monty Naicker gave his first press conference in a decade on 1 May.

11 May, A thousand people packed the Tamil Vedic Hall, Durban to welcome Dr Naicker back into the community.

June, Dr Naicker made five applications for a passport to visit his sister in Scotland, whom he had not seen for three decades. The first application was made in June 1973, a month after his banning order had been lifted, but the police reported to the Secretary of Justice on 19 June 1973 that Dr Monty Naicker had told local newspapers and the audience at Vedic Hall that he would continue with his political activities. More troublesome for the police was that he gave the armed fist salute of the African National Congress (ANC) to deafening cries of 'Amandla' (Power). Minister of Interior, Connie Mulder, turned down the application in August 1973.  Dr Monty Naicker received an official reply from F.R. Salmon, Secretary for the Interior, which stated simply and starkly that 'the applications were not successful.' No reasons were given and Dr Monty Naicker's wish to meet his only living sister would remain unfulfilled.

A.S. Chetty, Chairman of the Pietermaritzburg branch of the NIC, was served with a five-year banning order in 1973.


Dr Monty Naicker's passport applications were turned down on 14 May 1974 and 18 August 1975. Dr Naicker applied for the fourth time on 7 January 1976. This was officially declined on 3 March 1976 after the police reported to the Secretary of Inland Security on 19 January 1976 that Dr Monty Naicker had addressed a mass meeting on 12 October 1975 in support of Winnie Mandela, in which he made reference to 'his great friend Nelson Mandela' and said that South Africa 'was one big jail where the black people were crying for their freedom.'  However, Dr Monty Naicker persevered with his desire to visit his sister in Scotland - family members speak of this being one of his last wishes - and he made a final application on 13 April 1977.

25 September, The victory of Frelimo in Mozambique generated new-found optimism. Saths Cooper, Strini Moodley and other members of South African Students Organisation (SASO) and the Black Peoples Convention (BPC) helped organise a 'Viva Frelimo Rally' at Curries Fountain. The leaders were arrested and held incommunicado for four months. They were charged on 31 January 1975, and after a lengthy trial, nine were sentenced to periods of imprisonment ranging from five to ten years on Robben Island: Saths Cooper, 'Terror' Lekota, Muntu Myeza, Aubrey Mokoape, Nkwenkwe Vincent Nkomo, Pandelani Vincent Nefolovodhwe, Strini Moodley, Zithulele Cindi and Gilbert Sedeba. The BPC breathed fresh impetus into the antiapartheid struggle but its structures failed in any substantive way to move much beyond universities and training colleges.

17 November, Addressing a meeting of the Merewent Indian Ratepayer's Association, Dr Monty Naicker attacked Prime Minister John Vorster's announcement that in six months he (Vorster) would begin changing the racial situation in the country. Dr Naicker warned that Vorster was still thinking in terms of an exclusively white Parliament and Group Areas and condemned the Council as 'nothing but an advisory body' which Indians should shun.


June, The NIC convened an emergency meeting mediated by Advocate Hassen Mall, to thrash out a position 'once and for all.' At the end of tense and animated exchanges, the NIC rejected the South African Indian Council (SAIC) and Local Affairs Committees (LAC) as well as those who contested elections in these organisations.


MP Naicker received the prestigious Julius Fucik award, named after the journalist who was killed by the Nazis during the occupation of Czechoslovakia in World War II.


One of Dr Naicker's last acts was to head the anti-South African Indian Council Committee that was set up. He died within months of taking up the cudgels of leadership one more time.

29 April, En route to East Germany M.P. Naicker suffered a heart attack and died. Waiting for him at Schoenefeld Airport in Berlin was his old friend Eric Singh of the Natal Indian Youth Congress (NIYC) who had to convey the news to Mrs Saro Naicker.

8 May, Oliver Tambo, Yusuf Dadoo, Brian Bunting, and other high-ranking members of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) attended MP's funeral in London, where Tambo gave the keynote address. 

24 May, Dr Monty Naicker immediately got involved in the preparations for a public commemoration of MP Naicker’s death at the Gandhi Library, Durban. It was convened by Dr Monty Naicker, Florence Mkhize, D.K. Singh, A.H. Randeree, and Thumba Pillay. Three former Treason Trialists who were subsequently banned or house-arrested, shared the platform, namely, Dr Monty Naicker, Helen Joseph and Archie Gumede.

23 July, Phyllis Naidoo went into exile and returned to South Africa on 26 June 1990.

November, The NIC formed an Anti-SAIC Committee. It went by the acronym ASC, with Dr Monty Naicker as chairman, Dr Goonam as treasurer, M.J. Naidoo as vice-president and A.H. Randeree as secretary. The clock was turned back when the ASC stood for Anti- Segregation Council.

26 November, The first meeting of the ASC was held at the Kajee Hall, Durban. In the lead-up to the meeting, the ASC issued a statement that in its ten years of existence the Council had achieved nothing of note, and that they intended applying pressure to get members to resign. In addition to Dr Monty Naicker and Dr Goonam, Dr Jerry Coovadia, Rabi Bugwandeen, and Dr Y. Variawa, chairman of the Transvaal Action Committee, also addressed the meeting. Members of the Council were invited to share the platform but did not turn up. Dr Monty Naicker's speech would be one of his last acts of defiance. He insisted that he would 'not register as a voter for the dummy Indian Council elections.'

11 December, There was a second meeting at David Landau Community Centre in Asherville, where Dr Monty Naicker shared the platform with respected educationist Dr A.D. Lazarus, who said that he was 'not fooled by the government's phoney councils. If I am a South African citizen then why am I not given equal rights as my white counterparts' The ASC and NIC issued a statement that 'the role of the Council is clear. Its members are there at the request of the government and as paid agents; it rubber-stamps government plans and passes them on to a vote less and voiceless people.'


12 January, Dr Gangathura Mohambry 'Monty’ Naicker passes away. Dr Naicker took ill, and was admitted to St Aidans Hospital, where he died at the age of 68.  His body lay at the Vedic Hall in Carlisle Street, Durban on 13 January for the public to pay its respects, after which he was cremated at the Clare Estate Crematorium. Among those who paid tribute at Dr Monty Naicker's funeral were Nokukhanya Luthuli, widow of his great friend and inspiration Chief Albert Luthuli, Ismail Chota (I.C.) Meer, Dr Goonam, Norman Middleton, executive member of the Coloured Labour Party, Archie Gumede, M.J. Naidoo, Jane Turner, mother of slain activist Rick Turner, and Dr Jerry Coovadia.


1 March, Vera Ponnen dies in Edmonton, Canada.

6 July, Phyllis Naidoo's daughter, Sukthi, was living with her in Maseru, Lesotho, when she was injured in a bomb attack. The bomb was concealed in a package containing copies of Sechaba. Phyllis lost seven teeth and her hearing in one ear, but she refused to leave the country.

September, Phyllis Naidoo was forced to leave Lesotho at 24 hours notice by the Lesotho government. Forty-two people had been killed in the previous year and to avoid more casualties she heeded the call. 


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