Hassim Mohamed Seedat

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Posted by Jeeva Rajgopaul on

Biographical information

Image by Omar Badsha

Synopsis:

Attorney, political prisoner, Natal Indian Congress treasurer, member of the Democratic Lawyers Association, first black member elected as a council member of the Natal Law Society, past chairman of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), trustee of the Gandhi Development Trust, member of the editorial board of Satyagraha newspaper, chair of the Mota Varachha Trust and chairman of the Freedom Park Trust History Durban Committee.

 

First name: 
Hassim
Middle name: 
Mohamed
Last name: 
Seedat
Date of birth: 
1930
Location of birth: 
Newcastle, Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal)
Date of death: 
5 June 2019
Location of death: 
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Hassim Seedat, was born in Newcastle, Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal), in 1930. His family came to Newcastle as traders in the late 1880s. He attended St Oswalds High School in Newcastle and Sastri College, Durban where he matriculated in 1947.

He qualified as a teacher at the Springfield Teachers Training College, being part of the first group of teachers to qualify from this institution when it was opened in 1951. He taught at Ballengeich Indian School (in Northern Natal) before proceeding to London where he enrolled with the London Education Council and took up a temporary teaching assignment whilst studying to obtain his Barrister-at-Law. He was called to the Bar in 1960.

Mac Maharaj and Professor Kader Asmal, amongst many, stayed with him when they first landed in London. Whilst in London he was active in the anti-apartheid campaigns mounted in the United Kingdom by the Anti-Apartheid Committee.

He was an articled clerk to attorney NT Naicker, a prominent Natal Indian Congress (NIC) activist and treason trialist. He subsequently established a legal practice in Durban, and was later joined by Thumba Pillay and Ebrahim Goga.

Seedat defended a number of political activists and was detained for a month in 1965 in connection with the trial of MD Naidoo who was sentenced to five years on Robben Island.

He was active in the NIC when it was revived in 1971 and was elected treasurer. He was elected a council member of the Natal Law Society in 1980, the first black member to hold this office.

He is a former member of the Democratic Lawyers Association (DLA), the first black law organisation in the country. He has been a past chairman of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) South African Chapter based in Durban. The organisation is one of many around the world, representing about 20 million Indians living outside India.

Seedat contributed to The South African Gandhi 1893-1914, edited by Professor Fatima Meer, and wrote a series of articles on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in South Africa which appeared in The Leader during 1979 and 1980. He was a trustee of the Gandhi Development Trust, on the editorial board of Satyagraha, and chairman of the Freedom Park Trust History Durban Committee.

Seedat has the most extensive collection of books, pamphlets, magazines, brochures and memorabilia on Gandhi’s South African years, as well as general material on Indians in South Africa. He is also the chair of the Mota Varachha Trust which was founded in 1906 by villagers from Mota Varachha who settled in Natal.

Hassim Mohamed Seedat passed away on 5 June 2019 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Hassim Seedat in 1982 photographed by Omar Badsha

Last updated : 12-Jun-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 07-Jun-2019

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