Mithrasagaran (Murthie) Naidoo was the son of Ama and Thambi Naidoo.  He worked as a clerk and was detained for political activities, without charges, for several weeks in 1964.


He was first detained in 1965 on his way to visit his brother Indres Naidoo who was imprisoned on Robben Island for sabotage. He was arrested at the airport in Cape Town and was held overnight in a dark filthy cell in Roeland Street Prison. The next day he was taken to Swartkop Aerodrome in Pretoria in a light military aircraft. It was a journey he will never forget as he was violently sick during the entire flight from airsickness while on his way to Pretoria from Cape Town. He was then driven to Pretoria Central Prison where he was stripped naked and searched and then given back all of his clothes except for his belt, shoelaces and watch. They said this would prevent him from committing suicide in prison but he had no intention of committing suicide.


Murthie was held in solitary confinement for a fortnight in a small cell of about three metres by two metres. He had to sleep on a grass mat with two blankets even though it was bitterly cold. One small bucket in the corner was his bathroom and another bucket contained water. He was fed mielie rice (crushed corn) and water only and was usually allowed to exercise for half an hour a day.


After two weeks, he was interrogated, verbally abused and assaulted. One of his torturers was a police officer, Swanepoel, who boasted to him that he had shot his brother. This was the same police officer who tortured his sister, Shanthie Naidoo, during her detention. At one point, he was kept awake for two days and one night. After making a statement, Murthie was taken back to his cell where he was kept in solitary confinement for four months under the 180 day law.


Murthie had absolutely no contact with any of the other prisoners who were almost entirely common-law prisoners but he could continually hear the beating and sjamboking (lashing) of other prisoners. Upon his release he was listed as a Communist.


He was detained again from November 1965 to 1 April 1966 under the 180-day law with his brother-in-law, “Issy” Dinat. He was tortured and kept in solitary confinement most of the time.


On 25 August 1967, Murthie was "listed" in the Government Gazette as a Communist. Because of the listing, he could not join organisations and could not be quoted in the press.


He was again interrogated, assaulted and held in solitary confinement for two weeks.  His next spell in detention stretched from May 1980 to 10 August 1980 under the General Law Amendment Act.


Murthie was involved with the Parents of Detainees Committee (DPSC), an organisation set up to assist political detainees. During this period, he was again interrogated, assaulted and held in solitary confinement for two weeks. During this period, he saw a headline in a newspaper in the prison office about the Sasolburg explosion. When a police officer saw him looking at this newspaper and reading it he became visibly very angry and beat him with his fists.


Subsequently he was taken to Modder Bee Prison, Benoni, Transvaal (now Gauteng) where he was held with other detainees from around the country in communal cells until  10 August 1980 when he was released.

•   E.S.Reddy. (2012). From an email to SAHO, from Mr E S Reddy, dated 30 June 2012. Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (1997). Truth And Reconciliation Commission - Special Hearings ”“ Prisons. The Naidoo Family online. Available at .  [Accessed on 7 February 2013]

Collections in the Archives