Memorandum to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, June 1968

  1. The South African Indian Congress has on many occasions brought to the attention of the United Nations and its Member States the condition of the people of Indian origin in South Africa and the impact of the policies of apartheid on them. We have done so, however, in the knowledge that there can be no redress for the Indian community in isolation.
  2. The South African Indian Congress is a member of the Congress Alliance which is led by the African National Congress. The policy of the Movement is to eliminate discrimination and racialism in our country and to establish a free and democratic South Africa for all our people.
  3. The South African Indian Congress therefore wishes to address itself to the Special Committee as an integral part of the Liberation Movement in South Africa. We draw the Committee's attention to the particular impact of the policies of apartheid on the people of Indian origin, but we seek support for action against the policy of apartheid itself and as it affects all the people of South Africa.
  4. Since members of the Liberation Movement last addressed the Special Committee, the South African Government has further intensified its oppressive policies and it is seeking actively to divide and isolate the various racial groups within the country.
  5. The Committee is aware of the policies that claim to establish "Bantu homelands" for the African people, and of the special system of education that has been devised to create a subservient people. These policies are now being extended to the Coloured and Indian people.
  6. With reference to the people of Indian origin, the Government has for example:
    1. Intensified the implementation of the Group Areas Acts to cover almost the entire country and the overwhelming majority of the Indian people. Figures published by the South African Institute of Race Relations in 1966 revealed that in the Transvaal alone 87.62 per cent of the total Indian population had already been moved, or were in the process of being moved, from their homes.

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

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

      Our people, after over 100 years of living in South Africa, are still basically insecure. This insecurity arises from the fact that we are restricted in our choice of occupation, employment, education, trade and association. Added to the massive restrictions have been the recent clamp-down on professional people wanting to live and work abroad. The ruthless and systematic implementation of the Group Areas Act has resulted in the increase of suicides in Durban and Pietermaritzburg. There are ten known cases of suicide which can be directly attributed to the Group Areas Act. Social life has rapidly deteriorated and has resulted in an increase in delinquency, gang warfare and imprisonment for petty and large-scale crimes.

      For an Indian, the right to travel from province to province for the purposes of employment, study or holiday is seriously curtailed by the requirement of obtaining a permit. A permit for a limited stay which can be refused, curtailed or extended is at the behest of a petty clerk with the result that thousands of unemployed Indians in 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 racial group. The experience of the introduction of "Bantu education" has given rise to justified fears amongst our people that this is merely the first step in introducing a system of indoctrination for our children and isolating them within South Africa whilst denying them opportunities for fulfillment and development.
    3. Established a South African Indian Council (formerly the Indian National 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 Government to lend semblance of democracy to its apartheid structure. Its members have been chosen not by the people but by the Minister for Indian Affairs. Its functions are merely advisory and, even as envisaged in the future, its powers will be limited and subject to the veto of 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 principle which has been repeatedly rejected by the Indian community since 1946, and which has been universally recognised as being contrary to democratic practice.

  7. The South African Indian Congress is a federal union of the following organisations:

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

    The disciplined and persistent opposition of the South African Indian Congress and its member organisations has led to many of its officials and members being banned, restricted, placed under house arrest or forced into exile. Many others are serving various terms of imprisonment.

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

  8. Nonetheless, the Indian community has expressed its opposition to the Government's policies.
    1. No recognised figure among the Indian people has accepted nomination to the South African Indian Council and the Minister for Indian Affairs has had to admit that he had been unable to obtain the support of the representative leaders of the Indian community (Speech opening discussion on establishment of INC).
    2. In spite of the intensive propaganda efforts of the Government listing 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 separate Department for Indian Affairs, and it is able to function at present only in so far as the people are forced to resort to its services.

    3. Individuals have taken courageous stands and repeatedly resisted the application of the Group Areas Act. Special mention must be made of Nana Sita who has served three jail sentences since 1962 for refusing to move from his home in Hercules, Pretoria, which he has occupied for over forty years.
    4. Despite police intimidation the schools have been a focus of political activity - with repeated demonstrations in support of arrested teachers and political prisoners, and against government-organized functions and policies.
    5. Individual members of the community have joined with the African people 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 and distributed widely within South Africa. A copy of the leaflet is attached as Appendix 1.
  9. 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.
  10. We have noted with appreciation the many resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council referring to the situation in South Africa, and more particularly: the resolution demanding the release of South African political prisoners; the resolution calling for an arms embargo; and the resolution calling for sanctions against South Africa.
  11. It is our view that a primary prerequisite for the development and expansion of the role of the United Nations in the deteriorating situation in southern Africa is the rapid and complete implementation of the resolutions already adopted.

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

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

  12. The need to implement the United Nations resolutions becomes more urgent in the light of the militarily expansionist policies of the South African Government. The threat to world peace is manifest in that Government's disproportionate expenditure on armaments, in the presence of its armed forces in Rhodesia, its close military and economic ties with Portugal, and its threats of aggression against the independent State of Zambia.
  13. The South African Indian Congress associates itself with the submissions made by the African National Congress on the situation in southern Africa, and the urgent need for the United Nations to prevent the flouting of its resolutions by South Africa and by member States who continue their overt support of apartheid in defiance of the world community.

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



A message from Dr. Y.M. Dadoo to the Indian people

Brothers and Sisters

The struggle against apartheid and for Freedom has entered a new decisive phase. Freedom-fighters, combat units, well-trained and well-armed, are already giving battle to the oppressors with great daring, skill and determination in Rhodesia. Contrary to local press reports, they are dealing severe blows to the fascist forces of Ian Smith and Vorster. Soon they will be fighting the enemy on South African soil.

"WE ARE AT WAR" says the leaflet of the African National Congress which was widely distributed in South Africa recently. In a rousing CALL TO REVOLUTION which appears in the January 1968 issue of Sechaba, official organ of the ANC, Oliver Tambo (the Acting President-General) states that "as our forces drive deeper into the south, we have no doubt that they will be joined not by some, but by the whole African nation; by the oppressed minorities, the Indian and Coloured people; and by an increasing number of White democrats."

Period of revolutionary upheavals

Our country, South Africa, faces a period of ever-increasing revolutionary upheavals. Life can no longer go on in the same old way. The new developments call for a reappraisal of the role and the task in the coming struggle of each sector of the oppressed people, African, Indian and Coloured.

We have suffered enough

Our community, like the African and the Coloured people, has had enough of racial discrimination, apartheid and White Supremacy.

The GROUP AREAS ACT is taking a heavy toll; daily more and more families are being driven out from their hearth and home and thrown onto the garbage heap of Indian group areas; we are being robbed of our means of livelihood; the standard of education of our children is being lowered. Unemployment is rife. Once the Government succeeds in completely driving our people into Ghettos, all kinds of restrictions will be applied preventing our people from going out of the areas to seek work, carry out professional duties or to trade; prevent non-Indians from coming into our areas without permission. We shall be cooped up in a lot of hovels; cut off completely from the mainstream of the life, economy and culture of the country.

We have a proud record of struggle

From the days of Gandhiji the Indian people have resolutely and bravely offered resistance to racial discrimination and segregation. The campaigns of passive resistance and the Great March of 1913 conducted under the leadership of Gandhiji are unforgettable and historic landmarks in the history of our people. The Passive Resistance Campaign of 1946 against the Ghetto Act inspired our people and prepared them for the struggles ahead. Since the advent of the Nationalist Government in 1948 our people have marched hand-in- hand with the African people under the leadership of the African National Congress, playing our part in stay-at-homes, hartals, the great Defiance Campaign of 1952 and participating in the many demonstrations against apartheid tyranny. Our people were participants in the Congress of the People which formulated the historic FREEDOM CHARTER which guarantees freedom and democracy to all South Africans.

To the call of the Umkhonto We Sizwe, our militant youth responded without hesitation and with determination; Babla Saloojee gave his life; and many of our brave activists like Billy Nair, Chiba, Maharaj, Indres Naidoo, Shirish Nanabhai, Reggie Vandeyar, George Naicker, Ebrahim Ismail, together with the African, Coloured and white comrades-in-arms are at this very moment serving long terms of imprisonment.

Ahmed Kathrada, together with the outstanding leaders of our country, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Abram Fischer, Govan Mbeki, Dennis Goldberg and others, is condemned to life imprisonment.

Nana Sita, the veteran leader of our movement, men like Mohamed Bhana and those brave students who valiantly refused to participate in the Republic celebrations, continue to hold aloft with self-sacrificing courage the banner of resistance.

What now?

The terror let loose by the Government through its Special Branch has made it impossible for our national organisation, the South African Indian Congress, and its constituent bodies, to function legally. Every one of the office-bearers and prominent committee members has been banned, imprisoned or driven into exile. Every form of intimidation and blackmail is used by the Government and the Special Branch to silence criticisms of apartheid. There has arisen amongst our people a small minority of traitors, stooges and puppets who speak in the voice of their masters - Vorster and Trollip. Some of them have been cajoled, bribed or intimidated by the authorities into serving on the bogus government-appointed South African Indian Council.

Our people should have no illusion about the South African Indian Council. Remember the Judenraten (Jewish Councils) set up by the Nazis at the time of Hitler! The "representatives" of the Jewish community on these councils were used merely as instruments to facilitate the sending of hundreds of thousands of the Jewish people into concentration camps and the gas chambers.

However, all the efforts of the Nationalist Government and its stooges will fail. Our people can never submit to the ruination and indignity imposed by white supremacy. Brave spirits will speak out and organise and fight for liberty.

Vorster cannot win

As the freedom-fighters gather strength the sound of their guns will be heard throughout the land.

All Vorster's arms and all Vorster's men will not be able to stop the onward march of the people to freedom. The struggle may be grim and protracted but it will not cease until apartheid has been overthrown and full and equal rights and opportunities ensured to all the citizens, irrespective of race, colour or creed - until the Freedom Charter is translated into reality.

Our tasks

History calls upon us to play our full part in the new phase of the struggle:

  1. Heed the call of the ANC - ally yourselves with the freedom-fighters - help them in every possible way! Make their path easy!
  2. Reject the government-managed South African Indian Council!
  3. Maintain and intensify resistance against the Group Areas Act and against every aspect of apartheid!
  4. Youth! Your place is in the forefront of the struggle. Become freedom- fighters! Carry this message far and wide among our people. Help mobilize full support for the freedom-fighters in town and country! We shall win!

Amandla Ngawethu! Jana Shakti!

Matla Ke A Rona!

Power to the people!


The effects of the South African Government`s educational policy on the education of the Indian people

The central thesis of the policy of apartheid is white supremacy its preservation and perpetuation - based on Black servitude. The realisation of this object of apartheid is ruthlessly pursued in every walk of life - political, social, economic, cultural and educational. white supremacy can only be a reality with the total emasculation of the "non-white" peoples.

In the sphere of education the key principle of the Government's policy is that of non-equality in opportunity and provisions aimed at providing a minimal education to the "non-white" peoples whilst at the same time creating and providing optimal conditions for the education of the whites. The general effect of such a policy ensures a vast disparity in the educational attainments of the two national groups.

Whereas emphasis is placed on the effects of the educational policy on the Indian people, the purpose here is not to project the treatment of the Indian people as a separate "non-white" entity with problems exclusively peculiar to itself, but merely to demonstrate the validity of a basic tenet of apartheid - viz., racialism is indiscriminate and indivisible. It subjects all the "non- white" peoples to the matrix of oppression with only the slight variances in the order and degree of this matrix.

1. Expenditure on education

In 1965 the Republic of South Africa spent approximately 4.5 per cent of its total national income on education and training at all levels for all the people.(1)

For 1965 this amounted to approximately R326,475,000. The distribution, however, was as follows:

77.27 per cent for the Europeans (population: 3,395,000), 9.45 per cent for the Coloureds (population: 1,742,000), 4.38 per cent for Asiatics (population: 533,000, including about 7,500 Chinese people) and 2.39 per cent for the African people (population: 12,162,000)

Without exception, at all levels of education, the overwhelming bias in favour of the white minority group is maintained. The effect is not only a steady depression in the educational aspirations of the "non-white" majority, but an ever-widening gap between the main national groups.

2. The pupil-teacher ratio

By the end of 1964 there were some 730,000 White pupils at school compared with some 145,000 Indians. At the same time there were approximately 32,000 white teachers as compared to 4,400 Indian teachers thus giving a teacher-pupil ratio of about 1:33 for Indians and 1:22 for whites.(2) For the African people this ratio was approximately 1:73 as far back as 1960.(3)

According to Mr. P.H.T. Nel, recently appointed Director of Indian Education, approximately 40 per cent of all Indian teachers in employment were not fully qualified, while 10 per cent of these were wholly unqualified academically, possessing not even the minimum requirements or training.(4)

In the context of the policy of inequality, this serves two purposes simultaneously - a considerable saving of money, since unqualified teachers are paid less, as well as a deliberate lowering in the standard of education provided. With an ever-increasing exodus of graduates and experienced teachers from education to other better-paid employment, or emigration to countries offering more attractive salaries and conditions, the incidence of unqualified teacher employment is aggravated.

3. The platoon system

At the same time, Mr. Nel stated that some 30,000 children in certain areas and schools in Natal have to attend school during the afternoons due to an estimated shortage of some 1,000 class-rooms. The platoon system, as the afternoon school classes are termed, is operating in some 133 schools involving about 800 teachers.(5) The system has already been in continuous use for the last fifteen years.

In the Transvaal, the platoon system was originally instituted in Johannesburg for primary school children more than twenty years ago. It is still being operated. Recently, a similar shortage of schools in the Indian Group Area of Lenasia in the Transvaal saw the introduction of the system during 1963 to 1964.

There can be no doubt that educationally afternoon classes are detrimental to maximal learning. Lack of accommodation, over-crowding in class-rooms, and insufficient educational equipment are powerful factors in the general depression of educational standards of the "non-white" peoples.

4. The policy of self-education

Of particular significance is the unfair burden which the educational policy of the Government places on the "non-white" people, the burden of providing for the education of their children largely through their own efforts.

Thus out of about 281 schools in the Natal province in 1966 , only 51 were actually built by the educational authority on its own: 220 were built by the Indian community on a rand-for-rand basis at a cost of well over R2 million to itself.(6) This dire economic sacrifice falls on a community whose per capita income in 1960 was R147 as compared with R925 for the Europeans who are not called upon to make additional contributions for the education of their children. Besides, all school equipment and educational aid are only provided on a rand-for-rand basis.

5. Salaries

As in all other spheres of employment, remuneration is not based on the principle of equal pay for equal work by equally qualified persons, but on colour. An equally qualified Indian male teacher earns approximately 58 per cent of the salary of his white counterpart; women earn approximately 50 per cent of the salary of a white woman teacher.

The figure for African teachers is 41 per cent for men and 37 per cent for women, relative to the earnings of white teachers.

6. Distribution of pupils and academic attainments

The emphasis of the educational system vis-a-vis the "non-white" people is markedly on primary education.

According to the Statistical Yearbook for 1964, based on the 1960 census, the following figures obtained:

  1. 65.7 per cent of the total white population had passed Standard 5, (immediate presecondary school year), as compared with 23.8 per cent of the total Indian population and 8.2 per cent of the total African population;
  2. 15.39 per cent of the total white population had passed Standard 10 (Form 5), as compared to 1.37 per cent Asians and 0.13 per cent Africans.

The distribution of pupils in the primary and secondary levels in 1965 was as follows:(7)

Asiatics Whites
Primary Schools 82 per cent 66.2 per cent
Secondary Schools 18 per cent 33.8 per cent

It is the calculated policy of apartheid which operates to depress the educational attainments of the "Non-European" people. Without an understanding of the machinations of apartheid at all levels of life for the "non-white" peoples, figures like the above would tend to lead the uninitiated to the erroneous conclusion, (one that the exponents of the theory of "white superiority" always use), that the "non-white" peoples are mentally inferior.

Despite the overwhelmingly oppressive nature of apartheid, academic attainments are by no means completely blunted. Thus at the end of 1965 the results for the Matriculation examination were as follows:(8)

Asiatics Whites
Number of entrants 1,300 45,000
Percentage passes 55 per cent 57 per cent

Of particular significance in this respect is the comparability of performances for the two groups at equivalent examinations. This however is not the case with the results obtained by African pupils under the "Bantu education" system. Figures snow that there has been a steady deterioration of passes since the introduction of the system in 1953. The range is from approximately 47 per cent passes in 1953 to about 17 per cent in 1960.

7. Vocational training

The only institution providing any technical and vocational training for Indians is the M.L. Sultan College in Durban, Natal. There is no such institution in the Transvaal.

8. University education

In 1959, the policy of apartheid was extended to university education by the Extension of University Education Act. The Act restricted the entrance of "non-white" students as far as the "open" universities were concerned. Henceforth "non-white" students were required to go to racially and ethnically exclusive colleges.

Despite the title of the Act, however, the fields of study open to "non- white" students were rigorously determined by the type of employment open to them. There is no place for "non-white" architects, engineers, chemists, surveyors, etc., in apartheid-ruled South Africa.

The most pressing factor militating against university education is the high cost entailed. Enrolment fees alone amount to about R600 over the normal three-year course. The intense economic difficulties with which the people have to contend in order merely to exist, makes higher education an almost unattainable goal.

Despite all the hardships placed in their way, "non-white" students and parents generally sacrifice tremendously to obtain university education. In this field too the disparity between the two national groups is vast. Excluding the "non-white" colleges, the following is a summary of degrees and diplomas awarded in 1963 by South African universities:(9)

Whites Coloureds Africans Asiatics
Degrees and diplomas 5,517 58 117 146
Post-graduate 682 10 19 26

In terms of the Separate Universities Act, Salisbury College was established in 1960 to provide for higher education for Indians. The college's "temporary" premises are a former naval barracks on Salisbury Island in Durban Bay. By 1967, the proposed new premises had still not materialised. The college offers courses in only Arts, Pure Science, Commerce and Education.

The establishment of the college however was met by widespread disapproval by the Indian community and student body throughout the Republic, but rigorous application of the Act forced students to enrol. As a result of the strict and authoritarian control of student activities and wishes - for example, the Students` Representative Council was forbidden by the university authorities from affiliating to the National Union of South African Students - student unrest and agitation was rife since its establishment. This culminated in the arrest and detention of a number of students in 1964 and the subsequent imprisonment of one, Subya Moodley, for a year on charges of incitement, slogan-painting and distribution of leaflets.

9. The Group Areas Act

Of significance is the manner in which the Government used the Indian children to enforce the Group Areas Act in the case of those Indians resident in Johannesburg and the surrounding areas. In 1960 the Group Areas Board, responsible for the implementation of the Act, declared that the only high school for Indian children in Johannesburg would no longer serve as a high school, but as a teacher training college. Parents were asked to send their children to the high schools in the Indian group area of Lenasia, some 22 miles away. Despite widespread protests by the children and the community, the Board refused to change its ruling. By 1963 pupils were forced to travel a round trip forty-four miles daily. With a view to the welfare of their children, many Indian families moved to Lenasia. Previously, the Indian community, led by the Transvaal Indian Congress, had resisted by establishing a school financed entirely by the community. This multi-racial venture in teaching - the staff was composed of Indians, Africans, Coloureds and Europeans - was eventually forced to close down because of persistent intimidation by the Security Police, bannings of members of staff, and a serious lack of funds after about eight years.

10. The Indian Education Act, No.66, 1965

With the passing of the Indian Education Act in 1965, a structurally uniform pattern of education for the "non-white" peoples was consummated. The Act is the logical extension of the Bantu Education Act of 1953 and the Coloured Persons Education Act of 1963, and hence the general policy of apartheid. The Act provides for the control of the education of Indians by its appropriate racial institution - the Indian Affairs Department.

A cursory examination of some of the clauses of the Act can leave no one in doubt as to its intentions - that of rigorously policing the education of the Indians within the framework of the Government's basic policy. In so far as many of the main clauses deal with teachers, the Act also provides the key for the implementation of its policy - the teacher himself. Thus Clause 16 (g) states that he cannot be a member of any party, political organisation or group which the Government deems undesirable; nor can he participate in its activities or further its aims in any way deemed to cause embarrassment or danger to the State as a whole. Furthermore, he cannot publicly, otherwise than at a meeting approved of previously by the Minister of Indian Affairs, criticise the administration of any State Department (Clause 16 (f)). Neither can he disclose, other than in the immediate discharge of his duties as a teacher, any information gathered, nor use any such information other than in the discharge of his duties (Clause 16 (n)). It is clear that the fundamental purpose of the teacher is vitiated. He becomes a tool in the systematic implementation of a rabid racist policy.

Furthermore the Act does not provide for the real participation of the Indian people in the formulation and execution of educational policies.

There can be no doubt that the principle of non-equality of provisions and opportunities in education is a grave threat to the well-being and development of the non-white peoples. At the same time, however, the deliberate imposition of non-equality forms the basis of the intensification of the under- development of the non-white majority, and hence the maintenance and continuation of white supremacy.

1: Estimate in A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa, (SRR), 1967

2. SRR, 1965

3. Bishop Ambrose Reeves, Let the Facts Speak, 1963

4. SRR, 1964

5. SRR, 1964

6. SRR, 1967

7. SRR, 1967

8. SRR, 1967

9. SRR, 1964


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