Wednesday, July 4, 2018


(Dr Dilly Naidoo(second from right) with Farouk Meer, Sunny Singh, Swaminathan Gounden, Paddy Kearney and Bishop Reuben Phlip) In the late 1960s at a time when there was a lull in above ground resistance to the apartheid regime, a number of young activists came to the fore when they became involved in the revival of the Natal Indian Congress(NIC) to keep alive the freedom struggles. One of the low profile activists who played a key role in the re-launch of the NIC was a former student of the University of Natal Medical School, Dr Dilly Naidoo. In this “Struggle Heroes and Heroines” column, Subry Govender, reflects on the life of 76-year-old Dr Naidoo, a former Port Shepstone farm boy who became politically aware while completing his matric at Sastri College in 1960. BY SUBRY GOVENDER
(Dr Dilly Naidoo and Strini Moodley in Rotterdam in Holland in the late 1960s) Towards the end of his studies at the University of Natal Medical School in the late 1960s, Dilly Naidoo used to visit on a regular basis CNR House in Prince Edward Street in the former “Grey Street area” of Durban. In this building activists of the calibre of the late Mewa Ramgobin, lawyers, the late R S Nowbath and late Louis Skweyiya, and officials of the black consciousness South African Students Organisation (SASO) had their offices. It was a period when there were very little activities in the “above ground” campaigns against the apartheid regime because of the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada and other freedom leaders, the outlawing of the ANC, PAC and other organisations; and the bannings and flight into exile of many other leaders. NATAL INDIAN CONGRESS
(Dr Dilly Naidoo with Mewa and others when launching an NIC branch in Clairwood in 1971) One of the organisations that escaped banning was the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) but for all intents and purposes it had been rendered ineffective because of the banning, detention and flight into exile of many of its leaders. The apartheid regime was pushing ahead with its plans to impose the Bantustans, Coloured Representative Council (CRC) and the South African Indian Council (SAIC) on the African, Coloured and Indian communities. “It was against this background that many of us used to meet at CNR House on a regular basis to discuss the way forward,” Dr Naidoo told me in a recent interview. “Some of the people who frequented these intense discussions were Dr Jerry Coovadia, Dr Farouk Meer, Numsy Naicker, Louis Skweyiya, R S Nowbuth, D K Singh, George Sewpersadh, Basil Maharaj, R Ramesar, Rick Turner, Omar Badsha and occasionally Strini Moodley, Steve Biko and Saths Cooper. “While we were holding our discussions, students, at the same time, were being mobilised by Steve Biko. The communities in areas such as Chatsworth, Isipingo and Merebank were also standing up against the imposition of the SAIC. They formed the South Durban Civic Association under the leadership of M R Moodley and N N Naicker. “Our group at Mewa’s office in CNR House then decided that the time was ripe for us to revive the NIC as it was not banned. We had a very successful meeting at Bolton Hall early in 1971 with more than 500 people in attendance. It was unanimously decided that the NIC should be revived,” said Dr Naidoo. “Thereafter under the interim leadership of Mewa we moved from area to area to set up branches in Merebank, Chatsworth, Isipingo, Pietermaritzburg, Newcastle, Ladysmith, Port Shepstone, Umzinto, Stanger, Tongaat, Verulam, Clairwood and Asherville.” While they were busy politicising the people, the former apartheid security policemen were also very active, keeping a track on all the activists. MEWA RAMGOBIN
(Dr Dilly Naidoo - a creche run by the Chatsworth Health and Social Workers Association at an informal settlement near Chatsworth) It came as no surprise when in September 1971 just before the NIC was to be officially re-launched at a national convention at the Phoenix Settlement, north of Durban, the interim committee suffered a serious setback when Mewa Ramgobin was issued with his second banning and house arrest orders. Then at the same time they faced resistance to the revival of the NIC by BC activists such as Strini Moodley and Saths Cooper who questioned the “Indianess” of the NIC. “There was a lot of debate around this issue but we pointed out that no one was being excluded in terms of race,” said Dr Naidoo. “We pointed out that because of the lull in political activity there was a need to carry the struggles forward. We held another meeting at Bolton Hall where Steve Biko, Professor Fatima Meer, George Sewpersadh and I spoke on the same platform about carrying forward the struggles. “An NIC branch was formed in Central Durban and some of the BC people even became members. These people even came to our first conference at Phoenix where the NIC was re-launched in October 1971.” It was at this conference that Dr Naidoo was elected secretary along with Mewa Ramgobin as president. Among the other officials elected were George Sewpersadh, who was chosen to act as President because Ramgobin was banned, Drs Meer and Jerry Coovadia, N N Naicker, R Ramesar, A S Chetty, D Budhoo, S P Patchai, Rabbi Bugwandeen and R B Chaudhary. PROFESSOR FATIMA MEER
(Dr Dilly Naidoo with Fatima Meer, Ari Sitas and EU rep at a Aids Clinic in Durban in the late 1980s) Dr Naidoo worked with Ramgobin, despite his bannings, and the other leaders to promote the ideals of a non-racial and democratic society as envisaged by leaders of the calibre of Dr Monty Naicker, I C Meer, Fatima Meer, Ahmed Kathrada, J N Singh, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Govan Mbeki. Dr Naidoo held the secretarial position for three years and thereafter moved to his home town of Port Shepstone to promote primary health care while at the same time continuing the struggles for a non-racial and just democratic country through community involvement. “Having trained as a doctor, and having personally experienced the suffering caused by illnesses, most of which could be prevented since poverty is the greatest cause of ill health, I became a strong advocate of primary health care. I saw PHC, as opposed to curative, hospital-orientated disease management, as being more cost effective, affordable and could be easily accessible. I, therefore, started a rural medical practice in Port Shepstone. During this time, I ran several rural clinics and saw patients at some large factories.” PORT SHEPSTONE TAMIL ASSOCIATION
(Dr Dilly Naidoo's grand-mother and other family members) At the same time, Dr Naidoo continued with the political conscientisation of the people through a number of community-based organisations. He became involved in the Port Shepstone Child and Family Welfare under the leadership of Dr Gabriel and Mr A.K. Naidoo; the Hibberdene Santa TB Centre; Port Shepstone High School Old Boys Club; Marburg Ratepayers Association with local activist Dr A E Gangat; Port Shepstone Hindu Education Society that operated the Jai Hind School; the Port Shepstone Doctors Guild and the Port Shepstone Tamil Association. In 1987 after obtaining a Masters Degree in Primary Health Care, Dr Naidoo took up an appointment as District Surgeon in Chatsworth at a time when the political struggles were intensifying on all fronts. Dr Naidoo used this opportunity to contribute to the greater struggles by launching the Chatsworth Co-Ordinating Council for Health, Welfare and Education. He worked with activists such as Maggie Govender, Charm Govender, Shoots Naidoo, H. Nobin, a former inspector of schools, and Mr B A Naidoo, a senior welfare activist at that time. “Over 100 community-based organisations were affiliated to this body and we used it as a platform to take up various socio-economic issues and the campaigns against the Tri-cameral system that was imposed by the National Party Government. WORK AMONG THE MARGINALISED
(Dr Dilly Naidoo - a creche run by the Chatsworth Health and Social Workers Association at an informal settlement near Chatsworth) “Our Council was affiliated to the Shell Community Trust, and this enabled us to interact with organisations in areas such as Wentworth, Kwa Mashu, Lamontville and Phoenix. This became an effective networking agent and we did a lot of work among students by way of workshops and conferences during this vital phase of our struggles through the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).” Dr Naidoo also became involved in providing health care and support to thousands of refugees who were fleeing areas caught up in the internecine political violence between supporters of the ANC-UDF on one side and Inkatha, on the other. “There was a mass exodus of refugees into Durban and its surroundings. I joined a religious NGO, Crisis Care, under Roger Govender, to provide support and assistance in Chatsworth. “This gave us the opportunity to establish the Siyakha PHC Project, with Dr Selva Saman and Dr. Poonie Pather. We delivered PHC in nine informal settlements in Chatsworth, Umlazi and Inanda. We trained 90 community health workers from these settlements who were integral to health care delivery. We even had a refugee camp and clinic at Glebelands Hostel. ARCHBISHOP DENIS HURLEY
(Dr Dilly Naidoo - members of the Chatsworth Health Workers in the 1980s) The clinics were held twice a week in these areas and the project was supported by the Catholics Bishops Conference under Archbishop Denis Hurley and the European Union. “We also worked closely with the Institute for Black Research under Prof Fatima Meer and Ramesh Harcharan. This project endured for over 10 years until the new democratic government took over. Unfortunately, the paradigm of PHC was abandoned in favour of curative health care.” When Nelson Mandela was freed and the ANC and other organisations were unbanned in early 1990, Dr Naidoo and his group of NIC and UDM activists saw the development as the start of the establishment of a truly non-racial and democratic society. “We were all elated and full of expectations and all the activists were ready and looking forward to continuing the last part of the journey to our freedom.” At the same time there was a great deal of debate about the continued existence of the NIC. Dr Naidoo was one of the leaders with Mewa NON-RACIALISM THE KEY PRINCIPLE
Ramgobin who felt that it was now time to promote non-racialism without the drawbacks of ethnicity. He joined the ANC and was involved in recruiting members in the Western Areas of Durban. He also served as the first treasurer of the ANC branch in the Western Areas. “During the struggles against the apartheid regime,” he said, “our leaders had taken a principled stand on non-racialism”. “This saw the different anti-apartheid organisations, though forced to do political work within its own groups, always striving towards achieving a non-racial, free South Africa with equality for all. “In this sense, the NIC too, worked within the Indian Community, but within the coalition made up of the different organisations from all racial groups, all striving for non-racialism as the vision. UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT
(Dr Dilly Naidoo - Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma visiting a community clinic run by Dr Naidoo in Durban in the mid 1990s) “At the height of the resistance, they all came together as the UDF and the MDM and the outcome was the CODESA negotiations. And the Constitution that we aspired towards was one that would entrench non-racialism. We no longer needed to fight within a strategy that forced us to remain apart. “The danger of this would be for the different groups to work towards safeguarding their own communal interests in a country that was and still is, so unequal. This would only divide us even further. “Under the circumstances, I was of the opinion that we ought to start thinking of ourselves as human beings, as opposed to Indians affiliated to an Indian Congress.” IN THE first few years after the advent of our new democracy in April 1994, Dr Dilly Naidoo rendered his services at the Tongaat Community Health Centre. And in 2004 when the ANC took over the government in KwaZulu-Natal, he served in the Premier’s Office. PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
(Dr Dilly Naidoo - his organisation providing service at a community in Inanda) “I served as project manager for the establishment of PHC Community Centre Model in a deep rural region in a partnership between government and the Divine Life Society of SA.' Dr Naidoo said today, 24 years into our new democracy, South Africa experienced the harsh realities of inequality, deep poverty and rising unemployment. “It’s necessary for all of us to work as a united nation to bring about a better life for all. In the long term, if we do not join the fight against inequality, but continue to see ourselves as a more deprived group than the really deserving, not only does this go against the grain of our religion, but can also jeopardise our claims for being treated with dignity and circumspection by all South Africans.” Dr Naidoo’s involvement in the struggles for a non-racial and democratic society had its origins when he was growing up as a young boy on a farm in the Port Shepstone area. ANDHRA PRADESH AND TAMIL NADU
(Dr Dilly Naidoo, his wife, Dr Poonie Pather, Sunny Singh and his wife) Born on February 5, 1942, Dr Naidoo’s father, Moonsamy Seethanna, and mother, Rajamoney, were second generation descendants of indentured labourers, who earned a livelihood as market gardeners. His ancestors, who arrived from villages in what is now known as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, worked as indentured labourers at a Tea Estate and a sugar estate in Port Shepstone. “I know my parents made a living as farmers and they survived under trying conditions just like other members of the community. There were no luxuries such as running water, electricity or toilets. “I began to question the conditions under which the people were living. I would join my father when he used to go to the morning market to sell bananas once or twice a week. I would assist him in the market and then go to school. This is where I became street-wise and began to see that there were others in the same or worse social-economic predicament as ourselves.” The concern for the plight of the marginalised and disenfranchised people began to heighten when in 1957 he moved to Durban to attend high school at Sastri College. There was no high school in Port Shepstone and his parents made arrangements for him to stay with relatives and friends in Durban, so that he could attend Sastri College. PAT SAMUELS AND CLIVE VAWDA
(Dr Dilly Naidoo at their refugee shelter in Glebelands Hostel in the late 1980s. In the picture are Fatima Meer and reps of the EU.) “My conscientisation began to grow when I was in my senior standards in 1959 and 1960. Our teachers such as Pat Samuels and activists like Clive Vawda had a great deal of influence on my thinking. At the same time I became aware and took notice of the resistance activities such as the extension of universities act, the potato boycott, the riots in Cato Manor against forced removals and the Sharpeville massacre. We as students were motivated by people like Samuels and Vawda and we began to take a keen interest in the rallies and meetings taking place.” During his schooling, the young Naidoo excelled in soccer and played in the junior league. He played for Tulip Rangers and assisted the club to win the Natal Knock-Out Cup in 1960. He was also selected for Mayville District and for Southern Natal. In the South Coast League he played for Bridgeview FC. But political activism took most of his time and when he started medical school in 1961, Dr Naidoo became fully involved in the various student activities against the apartheid system. “As a student I chose to live at the student hostel in Happy Valley in Wentworth. Besides the medical students, there was a large number of students studying law and the social sciences. LOUIS SKWEYIYA, BEN NGUBANE, DENNIS MADIDE, STEVE BIKO AND AUBREY MOKOAPE
(Dr Dilly Naidoo(second from right) with some of the veteran activists. Dr Farouk Meer, Sunny Singh, Swaminathan Gounden, Paddy Kearney, Bishop Reuben Philip and Logie Naidoo.) “This is where there was heightened political activity and discussions with future leaders such as Louis Skweyiya, Ben Ngubane, Dennis Madide, and later Steve Biko, Aubrey Mokoape, Strini Moodley and Saths Cooper. There were also secret meetings with ANC leaders such as MD Naidoo and others who visited the campus secretly. “My social consciousness developed and this moulded me into a student leader. We worked initially in NUSAS (National Union of South African Students) and then joined the move that established SASO (South African Students Organisation).” During this time he made contact with Mewa Ramgobin when he and other students visited the Phoenix Settlement to provide community service at the health clinic run by Ramgobin and Ela Gandhi. They also provided their service at the Happy Valley Clinic in Wentworth. “We were strongly involved in these institutions and saw first hand the hardship that our people had to endure, and the frustrations of not being able to adequately improve their lot. But there was nothing much that we could do as students, other than conscientising the other complacent students, the community at large, and taking up issues in the press and demonstrations.” STRINI MOODLEY He served as chairman of the Medical Students Council and also Vice-President of the Association of Medical Students of South Africa. He travelled to Helsinki (Finland’s southern capital) in 1968 to represent the students at the World Conference of Medical Students. He also travelled to Rotterdam in Holland with Strini Moodley to establish links with the university activists and doctors there to support their struggles in South Africa. “On our return we started a number of projects, including a shelter for street children in Bottlebrush. I also went to India and Bangladesh as part of a South-South initiative for NGOs. This was part of a delegation of the Initiative for Participatory Democracy. All of this widened my horizons and vision and prepared me for the struggles against the apartheid regime.” Although for the next three decades he became embroiled in the mass struggles, he chose to remain in the background. Dr Naidoo, who is now retired from medicine, still continues to play a role in promoting the ideals and principles of non-racialism and democracy through the “South Africa in the Making” Exhibition being run by the Dr Monty Naicker Commemoration Committee in Durban. He also serves as a trustee in the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Dr Naidoo is married to Dr Poonie Pather, a family physician, who has been a central part of all his contributions. They have three adult professional children. Their eldest daughter, Dr Prishani Naidoo, 43, a Ph.D graduate, is a senior sociology lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She has just been appointed the director of the Society, Work and Development Research Institute (SCOPE) at Wits University. Their second daughter, Dr Sanushka Naidoo, 40, is a certified paediatric nephrologist, who is completing her doctorate at Wits University. Their third daughter, Dr Kanisha Naidoo, 36, a Ph.D and medical graduate, is a molecular pathologist who is attached to the London Institute of Cancer and is completing her second post graduate finals. She is the recipient of the Pioneer Award for innovative research, which carries a grant of two hundred pounds for cancer research. Now that we are in our third decade of freedom, Dr Naidoo concedes that South Africans face many challenges of social and economic inequalities. He is also concerned about the rising problem of violent crime. “We have to work with all role players in order to ensure that we create a climate where social challenges such as poverty, inequality, unemployment and crime is eradicated from our country. In the final analysis there must a better life for all with equal opportunities in all spheres of life.” ENDS – (June 30 2018)

Monday, July 2, 2018


(JANNA JIHAD AYYAD WITH JOURNALISTS DURING A MEDIA BRIEFING IN DURBAN ON MONDAY, JULY 2 2018) By Subry Govender The atrocities being committed by the Israeli Government and its soldiers against the people of Palestine must be relayed to the world no matter the consequences.
(JANNA AYYAD ADDRESSING THE MEDIA IN DURBAN) This is the commitment of a 12-year-old Palestine reporter, Janna Jihad Ayyad, who has been informing the world since the age of seven about the shootings, killings, arrests, interrogations and brutalities experienced by the Palestinian people at the hands of Israeli security forces. The young girl, who is the world’s youngest registered journalist, was addressing the media in Durban on Monday, July 2 (2018) about the suffering of the Palestine people at the hands of the occupying Israeli forces. She took on the task of informing the world through the social media after two members of her family were killed by Israeli soldiers. She has more than 294 000 friends on Facebook from around the world. She is the guest of the South African human rights organisation, Shamsaan, which promotes social activism through the field of the arts. Shamsaan campaigns for a “more just, peaceful society” and the goal of an “alternative vision that enhances dialogue and contributes towards achieving the longed-for Middle East peace and greater tolerance throughout the world”. In addition to journalists, the media briefing was attended by the Ethekwini deputy mayor, Fawzia Peer; the South African Ambassador to Palestine, Mr A Suliman, and former Durban deputy mayor, Mr Logie Naidoo.
(JANNA AYYAD WITH MS NADIA MEER AND WAHEEDA, ORGANISERS OF THE YOUNG REPORTER'S VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA) Miss Janna Ayyad said the situation in Palestine was “very bad now” with all the atrocities being committed against the people, including hundreds of children. She played video clips of the atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people, including children. She also played a video clip of herself speaking out against the barbaric actions to Israeli soldiers. She said Israeli soldiers showed no mercy what so ever when “shooting, firing teargas, and arresting children”. She said more than 20 children from her village alone were currently in jail. “Really the situation is very bad now.” She gave details about how two of her cousins were arrested and interrogated by the Israeli security officers. “They were treated in the most brutal manner without any concern for their human rights,” she said. “What is tragic is that women suffer the most because they are not only arrested and interrogated but they also have to bear the burden of taking care of their families under trying conditions when their husbands are arrested. “We are being oppressed and brutalised but despite this, we will not give up. The Israelis are not going to stop us from speaking the truth and informing the world about what is going on. “We want to appeal to the world to propagate the freedom of Palestine. We will be free soon.”
The young reporter quoted South Africa’s first democratic president and freedom icon, Nelson Mandela, who said “South Africa will not be free as long as Palestine is not free.” The young reporter has embarked on her trip to South Africa to promote her Child Prisoners Fund, which takes care of the thousands of children who are in jail, left destitute and orphaned by the brutalities of the Israeli Government and its soldiers.

Friday, June 29, 2018


(Judge Thumba Pillay (right) and Swaminathan Gounden) Two veterans of the struggle against apartheid and minority rule have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC Government to come out and clearly condemn those making racially-inciting statements. Retired judge, Thuma Pillay, and Swaminathan Gounden spoke to this correspondent soon after EFF leader, Julius Malema, repeated his statement that “majority of Indians” are racist when addressing his supporters in Newcastle on Monday (June 25 2018). Malema repeated his racial rhetoric after he made an appearance at the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court on charges of inciting people to invade land. He has been charged under the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956 after he encouraged people to occupy land during a meeting in Newcastle in 2016.
(President Cyril Ramaphosa) Judge Pillay(82), who has been associated with the Natal Indian Congress, United Democratic Front, and other progressive organisations for most of his life, said President Ramaphosa and the ANC must not remain silent when Malema and people of his ilk “sow seeds of division and hatred”. “The ANC has been very silent on this serious issue and we want to urge President Ramaphosa that he must take the lead in re-assuring South Africans that racial hatred will not be tolerated in our new non-racial and democratic South Africa,” said Judge Pillay. “The President must come out and tell Malema in no uncertain terms that he does not know the history of the people of Indian-origin. “He must tell Malema that he knows the history of the people of Indian-origin because he has worked with many of the struggle leaders for the freedom we enjoy today. He must not allow this freedom to be destroyed by people like Malema. “If President Ramaphosa and the ANC cannot speak out against Malema and his elements, then which organisation that the minority people of Indian-origin can turn to? “The people of Indian-origin are looking forward to President Ramaphosa and the ANC to re-assure them. But at the moment this is not happening. Who do the people turn to?” He added: “We are very worried about what is going on. They are talking about the Indian question. You know when the Indian question first came about? It was in 1946 when M D Naidoo and others went to the United Nations to take up the cause of the people of Indian-origin because of the oppression they had been subjected to by successive colonial and minority governments. “After all these years they are still talking about Indian question. This is worrying and disturbing. “We don’t have leaders of the calibre of Dr Monty Naicker and Dr Yusuf Dadoo any longer.” Mr Swaminathan, 90, who has been involved in the social, trade union and political struggles against minority rule for more than seven decades, said he was concerned about the “racially disturbing” statements being made by Malema and other people. “The ANC must come out to bring Malema to order because people are concerned about what Malema is doing,” said Mr Gounden, who only recently was presented with an award in Pretoria by the Government for his contributions to the struggle. “Malema’s statements are promoting uncertainity and violence against the people. He is inciting the people against another group of people.” Mr Gounden also said most people were pining for leaders of the calibre of Drs Monty Naicker and Yusuf Dadoo. “At least if we had leaders of that calibre today then the people will feel re-assured that someone will be talking against incidences of racial incitement and divisions. “We all fought for this freedom and Malema and company must be told in no uncertain terms that they cannot sow seeds of division and hatred against citizens of this country.” Both Pillay and Gounden said they appreciated the actions of the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, Rt Rev Steve Moreo; IFP leader Dr Manosuthu Buthelezi; and others for speaking out against Malema when he first made the racially-disturbing statements against people of Indian-origin when addressing supporters two weeks ago in Klerksdorp in the North-West Province. Ends – (June 25 2018)

Monday, June 18, 2018


(PEOPLE WAITING TO BE ATTENDED TO INSIDE THE HOME AFFAIRS OFFICE IN TONGAAT) By Subry Govender The Tongaat office of the Department of Home Affairs needs a staff official or a volunteer who will be able to make life easier for people who visit the centre. This is what I found lacking when I visited the office on Monday, June 18 (2018) to renew my passport. When I arrived at about 12:15pm I found that the centre was already filled with people who had thronged the office from the early hours of June 18. They were there to apply for new ID documents, to apply for new or to renew passports; or to collect their new ID documents and passports. After waiting in the queue outside the office for about five minutes, I asked the young man in front of me what was the reason for his visit. “O’h I am here to renew my passport and I have been told to wait in the queue outside here,” said the student who resides in Durban North. We chatted for a while about the congestion inside the Home Affairs office and agreed that we have to wait for another three or four hours to finalise the renewal of our passport procedures.
After a few moments I went up to the security guard at the entrance and informed him that I had come to renew my passport and asked him what was the procedure. He responded by saying that I have to join the queue outside the entrance and follow those in front of me. After I re-joined the queue and waited for some time, a lady and her son came along and went straight to the entrance without joining the queue. The lady’s son was also there to renew his passport. He was informed that they must go straight to the official who was issuing ticket numbers. The young man from Durban North and I immediately went to the security official and informed him that we were also there to renew our passports. The security guard’s colleague, a lady official, was taken aback and said: “Who asked you to stand in the queue. You must go straight to the official who is issuing the tickets and join the queue there,” said the lady official. Now imagine this. After wasting about 30 minutes outside the entrance we had to join another queue to obtain our tickets. Nevertheless, after waiting for a few minutes I was issued my ticket and number to join another queue to get finger printed and to be photographed. This was about 12:50pm. The official in this queue took her own time and it was after another about 45 minutes that I had my finger prints and photo processed. “What is the next procedure?”, I asked the lady official. “You must wait to be processed in the front,” she said. She appeared to be too tired and not interested in entering into any conversation with me. I wanted to make a few suggestions about how the service could be improved and how the people could feel welcomed at the centre. The officials should not feel that they are doing favours to the people visiting the centre. After observing her lack of interest and her “don’t bother me” attitude, I joined the third queue to process the renewal of my passport. There were more than 100 people before me. During this time, I noticed that a lot of other people were having similar problems after not being informed fully of the procedures.
I spoke to a young lady who had arrived at the centre at 11am and she appeared to be frustrated at the delay in her identity document being processed. This was around about 2pm. “I wish there will be some official here who will interact with the people and make life easier,” she said. She added: “If they have someone talking to the people and helping them to join the proper queues, then I think people will not be so angry. This is my second visit here because the first time they just didn’t care about helping me. “I think they must also have an electronic system to keep the people informed as to the next number being served. If not the electronic system, then they must use a loud speaker to announce the next number.”
The lady who resides in an area nearby was served at about 30 minutes later. When my turn came at about 3:25pm, I found the same official who took my finger prints and photo at the desk. She was as usual mechanical and was not keen on listening to any suggestions about improving the service. When I insisted, she said: “You know we work very hard here and are also under-paid.” After she completed my application, I had to go to the cashier to pay R400 for the renewal of my passport. Here too we had to wait for some time because the cashier was not at her post. The young man from Durban North then asked another official: “Where is the cashier? We have been waiting for a while.” The official sitting at a desk, outside the cashier’s cabin, shouted: “Cashier. You are wanted.” After a few moments, the cashier lady returned to her post. The young man gave his money and slip number to her. But she told him: “Wait. I have to check something.” She then proceeded to attend to the mother and her son and me. We paid our monies and wished the young man from Durban North well. “Hope you will be finished soon,” I told him. It seems that officials here are over-burdened and that’s the reason they find it difficult to interact in a friendly manner with the people who visit the centre. But all is not gloom. About 30 minutes after I left the Tongaat office, I received an SMS from the Department of Home Affairs with this message: “We acknowledge receipt of PASSPORT application for …(ID number) on 18 June 2018. More info: 0800601190 OR”. Ends – June 19 2018 (

Friday, June 8, 2018


(MOON GOVENDER AT THE ENTRANCE TO CURRIE'S FOUNTAIN IN THE ARELY 1970s) During the hey-days of the historic struggles for a non-racial and democratic society there were many people who made their contributions from “behind the scenes” without the limelight that followed many of the activist leaders at that time. In this feature in our Struggle Heroes and Heroines column, Subry Govender writes about the life of Moonsamy “Moon” Govender, one of the unsung activists who for nearly four decades until 1999 played a pivotal “backroom” role in promoting Durban’s Currie’s Fountain stadium as the mecca of non-racial sport and society in general. BY SUBRY GOVNDER "MR CURRIE'S FOUNTAIN" “I started as a labourer and I was introduced to the caretaker who was then known as the Sardar. He gave me a mop and a bucket and told me I must go and start washing the toilets that were all constructed of wood and iron. “From there I built myself and carried on.”
(MOON GOVENDER AT THE STANDS IN CURRIE'S FOUNTAIN) Mr Moonsamy “Moon” Govender, who was known as “Mr Currie’s Fountain” for most of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, was speaking to this correspondent in early 2 000 after he retired a year earlier from serving as “captain” of the historic Currie’s Fountain stadium for more than 45 years. He was 16-years-old when in 1952 he was recruited by the then secretary of the Durban Indian Sports Grounds Association, Mr Dave Moodley, to work at Currie’s Fountain. “At this time,” he told me, “I was working as a waiter at the Durban International Club in the Grey Street area”. “I got this job as a waiter after the famous educationist, Dr A D Lazarus, introduced me to the Durban International Club. My father used to at this time work as a gardener at the home of Dr Lazarus in Effingham Heights in Durban and on several occasions I used to join him at the home of Dr Lazarus. “My father told Dr Lazarus that it was not right for me to work as a gardener as well and that he should try to fix me a job. That is how Dr Lazarus used his influence to fix me a job as a waiter. “When working at the Durban International Club I met top people, including Mr Dave Moodley, who was the secretary of the Durban Indian Sports Grounds Association at that time. One day early in 1952 he approached me and asked me whether I would like to work for him at Currie’s Fountain. This is how I started work at Currie’s Fountain in early 1952.” Moon Govender saw this move from the Durban International Club to Currie’s Fountain as a major step in his working life. Although his entry into Curries Fountain started off at what could be described as an unpleasant experience, he quickly progressed from a toilet cleaner, grass cutter and labourer to the association’s office as a clerk. When in the late 1950s, the then secretary of the Durban Indian Sports Grounds Association, Mr R S Govender, passed on, Moon Govender was appointed as the new secretary.
(MOON GOVENDER WITH ONE OF THE OFFICIALS, MR ROY RAJU) As secretary he came under the influence of some of the most prominent anti-apartheid sports activists who were not only committed to the promotion of non-racial sport but also the transformation of the apartheid social, political and economic areas of life into an equal and non-racial society. Some of the forgotten veterans who influenced Moon Govender’s role in the promotion of non-racial sport were Mr E I Haffejee, who was president of the Durban Indian Sports Grounds Association from 1960 to 1964; Mr R Bijou, who was president of the Durban Sports Ground Association from 1964 to 1974; and Mr Ramhori Lutchman, who was president of the Durban Sports Gound Association from 1974 to 1982. Mr Govender told me that he had heard from his fellow activists that the leaders who initiated the establishment of Currie’s Fountain were Mr Albert Christopher, who was the first president from 1925 to 1926; Mr S L Singh, who was president from 1926 to 1960; and political icon, George Singh.
(MR RAMHORI LUTCHMAN IS ONE OF THE OFFICIALS MOON GOVENDER WORKED WITH AT CURRIE'S FOUNTAIN) Moon Govender also worked with sports leaders such as Abbas Rasool, who was president of the Durban Sports Gound Association and the Durban Football Association in the early 1980s; Rama Reddy, who was president of the South African Soccer Federation at that time; R K Naidoo, who was the first president of the SASF Professional League; Ashwin Trikamjee, who was also president of the SASF Professional League after Mr Naidoo; Charles Pillay, Vic Pillay, S K Chetty, Danny Naidoo, Norman Middleton, M N Pather, who was one of the top leaders of the anti-apartheid tennis union and SACOS, and Morgan Naidoo, who was involved in the non-racial swimming federation. He also came under the influence of non-racial cricket administrators such as Abdullah Khan, S K Reddy, Pat Naidoo, Harold Samuels, Krish Mackerdhuj, and Cassim Docrat.
(MR R. BIJOU IS ANOTHER OFFICIAL THAT MOON GOVENDER WORKED WITH AT CURRIE'S FOUNTAIN) All these activists were involved in the international struggle to isolate apartheid sport until there was freedom for all South Africans. Over the years since 1952 Moon Govender witnessed and participated in the struggles for non-racial sport from Currie’s Fountain. “This is where non-racialism in all codes of sport was born at Currie’s Fountain,” he told me. “And also to make it interesting we had people like Dennis Brutus and all the journalists who showed enormous courage in promoting non-racial sport at a time when the Government was only interested in harassing, intimidating, detaining, banning and denying activists their passports. “These people used to come to Currie’s Fountain and they were always targeted by the security branch. In order to evade the security branch officers they used to run away from the stands and hide behind Currie’s Fountain. In order to protect them I used to go right in the front in the ticket box and watch for these security policemen.” It was also during his term as “Mr Currie’s Fountain” that some of the finest football teams, footballers, cricketers and boxers who highlighted their skills at the mecca of non-racial sport. Some of the football teams include Aces United, Avalon Athletic, Moroko Swallows, Sundowns, Orlando Pirates, Berea, Hearts, Maritzburg City, Verulam Suburbs and Lincoln City. Some of the footballers who caught the imagination of the people during Moon Govender’s work at Currie’s Fountain included Sewnarain Lal, Lionel Homiel, Dharam Mohan, Excellent Mthembu, Gava Ellis, “Black Cat” Cele, Scara Wanda, Sugar Ray Xulu, Hector Fynn, Pat Blair, Charles Carey, Deena Naidoo, Dudu Munsami, Fikky Vally, Stanley Govender, Daya Maistry, Sadeck Ebrahim and Preston Julius.
(MR R K NAIDOO, who was president of the Federation Professional League (FPL), was one of the sports leaders that Moon Govender worked with at Currie's Fountain) Currie’s Fountain also became a home for many anti-government activities by the black consciousness organisations and trade union movements such as Cosatu. One of the major events scheduled for Currie’s Fountain in 1974 was the pro-Frelimo rally that was organised to celebrate the rise of Frelimo to power in Mozambique. But the security police and the authorities in Durban had other ideas. “When the police came here they approached us and wanted to know what was going on because the rally was banned. We told them we are having a dance and all sorts of entertainment. But they didn’t listen to that. They said you are talking lies. They said they wanted to know the truth about where the BC leaders were. “At this time Strini Moodley, Saths Cooper and also Steve Biko were inside the stadium. They were all under the stand where the referees used to change and no one knew about this except me. I told them there’s nothing happening here, you can see people are dancing. “But the security police officer did not listen to me and he pulled me out and gave me a slap. Despite this harassment and intimidation by the security branch, I did not succumb to their antics. With the help of people like Luthcman, R K Naidoo, Morgan Naidoo, M N Pather, and other stalwarts we continued to make available Currie’s Fountain for the promotion not only of non-racial sport but also anti-apartheid organisations such as Cosatu, the BC movements, United Democratic Front and other organisations. “We wanted to play our role in keeping alive the struggles for a non-racial and democratic South Africa.”
(MOON GOVENDER'S GRAND-FATHER AND OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY AT THE DUFFS ROAD SUGAR ESTATE IN DURBAN IN THE 1930s) After 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released from life imprisonment and the ANC, PAC and other organisations were unbanned, Moon Govender once again made available Currie’s Fountain as a venue for political rallies and the revival of political organisations. When Moon Govender retired in 1999 after more than four decades as “Mr Currie’s Fountain”, it was the pinnacle of a working life that had its origins in the humble settings of a sugar estate at Ottawa on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. His father, Chinna Kollandrai Govender, came to South Africa from the Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu in south India. He first worked as an indentured labourer at the Ottawa Sugar Estate, north of Durban near Mount Edgcombe. His father, after serving his first five-year indenture, moved to Frasers Sugar Estate on the North Coast where he married his mother, Muniamma Govender. Moon was born in April 1936 at the Duffs Road Sugar Estate where his parents moved to in the early 1920s. Moon was part of a large family of five brothers and five sisters.
(MOON GOVENDER'S FATHER, MOTHER AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AT THEIR SUGAR ESTATE HOME ON THE NORTH COAST) Like most children in the 1930s and 1940s, Moon Govender did not have the opportunities to further his education after attending primary school at the Jhugroo Government-Aiden Indian School in Ottawa for a few years at that time. “I had to give up schooling because of the tough conditions at home. My father wanted me to start work and to contribute to the upkeep of our home.
(MOON GOVENDER IN HIS YOUNGER DAYS) “I used to go and work in the sugar estate, starting at five o clock in the morning and what we used to get for a day was two-and-half cents a day. We used to call it tickey. “When it came to food I am not ashamed to tell you this that every day our favourite food was porridge and herbs. “Despite my hard life and lack of a proper education, Curries Fountain gave me the opportunity to interact with some of the most prominent anti-apartheid activists and leaders and to make my contribution from the background to the freedom struggles.” At the time of his retirement in 1999, Moon Govender lived with his wife, Priscilla, in Unit 10, Phoenix. He passed on, on January 3 2008 at the age of 71. He is survived by his wife, five children, a number of grand-children and three brothers and four sisters who range in ages from 62 to 83. – ends ( May 13 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


BY SUBRY GOVENDER The tragic killing of a nine-year-old school girl in an hijacking incident in Shallcross, Durban, on the morning of Monday, May 28 2018, is yet another reminder of the manner in which our new South African democratic society has degenerated and is descending into anarchy. It is totally shocking and unforgiveable that the young girl, Sadia Sukhraj, being taken to school by her parents is killed in an incident involving car hijackers. The shooting of the Shallcross school girl took place at a time when the broadcast, print and the social media reported the killings of two young girls, aged 16 and 17, at a school hostel in the North West Province at the weekend. A 19-year-old teenager was arrested for the murders. At the same time two teenage sisters and a baby were murdered by two men in the Kathelong area in Johannesburg. Also at the weekend an MK veteran, Samson Madonsela, was shot dead during an ANC Youth League regional conference in Mpumalanga. One person was arrested. The Shallcross tragedy took place almost at the same time when South Africans were informed of yet another cash-in-transit heist, this time outside the city of Polokwane in the Limpopo Province in the early hours of Monday morning. One person was injured as the violent thugs made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. VIOLENT CRIME IN ALMOST ALL RESIDENTIAL AND BUSINESS AREAS The killing of the young girl in Durban, the cash-in-transit heist outside Polokwane, the murders of the two school girls in the North-West, the slaughter of two sisters and a baby in Kathelong and the murder of the MK veteran are the latest in a series of killings, hijackings, cash-in-transit heists, political killings, taxi murders, and general lawless deterioration that have intensified in our beautiful country recently. This lawlessness has been festering in almost every part of our business and residential areas for nearly two decades. LAWLESSNESS HAS GRIPPED OUR NEW DEMOCRATIC SOUTH AFRICA This is shown by the antics of majority of taxi drivers who show no respect for the rules of the road. They stop anywhere and don’t care about motorists behind them. No one dares to confront the taxi drivers. Motorists fear that taxi drivers will have no qualms about pulling out their guns and firing at anyone who is brave enough to speak up for their rights. POLITICAL KILLINGS Political thugs and their cohorts have also come to the fore. These opportunists only want to enrich themselves and their allies and they show no mercy when they are exposed for their corrupt and deviant activities. They hire hit men to take out their opponents and over the past year or two a number of politicians have been gunned down or killed in gruesome ways. The latest political killings bring back memories of the everyday killings that took place between political enemies in the 1980s and early 1990s in KwaZulu-Natal and the Johannesburg region. More than 20 000 people lost their lives violently during this period of political war in KwaZulu-Natal alone. The latest political killings have reared their ugly heads at the same time as violent criminals roam the length and breadth of South Africa wreaking havoc on the lives of South Africans. They roam the streets without any fear of being arrested by the police. VIOLENT CRIMINALS THINK THEY CAN OPERATE WITH IMPUNITY As already stated, these violent criminals are found in almost all fields of life and all citizens live like prisoners in their own homes. Hard-working and tax-paying citizens have to go to extreme lengths to protect their lives behind high walls, guard dogs, barbed wire and electric fences, burglar guards and armed rapid response security. But despite these costly protective measures, many South Africans are still killed in their homes by violent criminals who monitor the movements of their victims. They brutally break into the homes of people and show no mercy to victims. The killers are so ruthless that they smash, hammer and shoot their victims irrespective of whether they are senior citizens, women, or children. It seems they operate with impunity. VIOLENT CRIMINALS HAVE DISRUPTED THE STRUGGLES FOR A "BETTER LIFE FOR ALL" Since the dawn of our new democracy in April 1994, our successive governments since the first democratic order of President Nelson Mandela did everything possible to improve the lives of the people. But sadly while trying to create “a better life for all”, at the same time violent criminals, thugs, drug lords, war lords and other violent scums have flourished in every nook and corner of the country by taking advantage of the liberal policies of the new democratic order. REFERENDUM SHOULD BE HELD ABOUT THE DEATH PENALTY One of the liberal actions was the withdrawal of the death penalty from the legal statutes. Our new leaders had been of the view that the death penalty was not necessary in our new democratic dispensation. They felt that the death penalty belonged to the archaic past and that in the new South Africa the people would respect the rule of law and they would also respect the right to life of citizens. But sadly the growing number of brutal killers show no respect for the rule of law or for the lives of fellow citizens. BARBARIC BANDITS SHOW NO RESPECT FOR THE RIGHT TO LIFE OF CITIZENS These bandits have created a climate of lawlessness, anarchy and fear in our new democratic order. Over the past few decades hundreds of families whose close relatives and friends had been tortured and killed have seen no closures because the most of the brutal barbarians have not been brought to book. I personally know of three family members, one a medical doctor, who had been gunned down by robbers between the mid-1990s and 2 000 but the killers have not yet been brought to book. The families have received no information from the police about whether there has been any progress in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice. It seems the police files are collecting dust in rusty cabinets of some police officers. I am certain many thousands of other murder files are also collecting dust in police cabinets. ARE WE MOVING INTO A STATE OF ANARCHY? The intensified killings in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country have just shown that our country is descending into a state of anarchy. Enough is enough. We cannot put up or tolerate this type of lawlessness any longer. PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA MUST ACT AS A MATTER OF URGENCY Our government under President Cyril Ramaphosa must be told in no uncertain terms that he must take steps to counter the violent thugs, warlords, drug lords and other lawless elements. President Ramaphosa, in addition to shaking up police actions, must initiate steps for a referendum where the people of South Africa can decide on the question of whether the death penalty should be introduced to combat violent killers and murderers. In addition to this action, we the citizens must also take action where ever we reside. Every street must have a street committee in order to monitor the criminals and to work with the police to bring the wanton murderers and killers to book. We have had enough. The buck now stops with President Ramaphosa. VIOLENT CRIME SHOULD NOT BECOME PART OF OUR LIVES IN A NEW DEMOCRATIC ORDER EVEN THOUGH WE FIRST ATTAINED OUR FREEDOM 25 YEARS AGO IN APRIL 1994. Ends – May 28 2018

Friday, May 18, 2018


(MERVYN BOOTH ON THE 18TH HOLE AT WINDSOR PARK GOLF COURSE IN DURBAN AT THE END OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT HE PARTICIPATED ON HIS 90TH BIRTHDAY ON SATURDAY MAY 12 2018) BY SUBRY GOVENDER A great-grand-father in South Africa who took up golf in 1956 to keep fit and healthy is still gracing the golf courses today, 62 years later, at the age of 90. Mervyn Rodney Booth, who was born at Durban’s Addington Hospital on May 12 1928, competed in a two-day 36-hole championship tournament on his 90th birthday at Durban’s Windsor Park golf course this past week end on May 12 and 13. The tournament was organised by his club, Athlone Golf Club, which is based at Windsor Park.
(MERVYN BOOTH (CENTRE) WITH TWO OF THE GOLFERS HE PLAYED WITH AT THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT) Mr Booth, who is known as “Baba” Mervyn, played in the C Division medal tournament with scores of other golfers, many years younger than him. Unlike a number of his fellow golfers who participated in the tournament by riding around the golf course in a golf cart, “Baba” Mervyn pulled his own cart and walked the 36 holes over the two days. He also played from the back competition tees instead of the senior “white” tees. At the end of the first day (Saturday, May 25), the club officials and members showed their appreciation by celebrating his 90th birthday.
(MERVYN BOOTH WITH ATHLONE GOLF CLUB DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON, LOU ZIETSMAN, AND ANOTHER MEMBER ON THE 18TH HOLE AT WINDSOR PARK GOLF COURSE AT THE END OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT) “We celebrate Mervyn as a legend because we believe he is the oldest golfer in the world to have participated in a two-day tournament,” said Lou Zietsman, deputy chairperson of the Athlone Golf Club. “He is an example to all of us that you don’t give up on golf or any other sport when you reach such a ripe old age in your life. “We want to wish Mervyn many more years of life on the golf courses.”
(MERVYN BOOTH BEING CONGRATULATED BY A LADY GOLFER AT THE 18TH HOLE ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT) In addition to playing in the club’s tournaments on a Saturday, “Baba” Mervyn is a regular at Windsor Park every Tuesday and Thursday. On a Tuesday, he plays in the Brian Angel tournament and on a Thursday, he plays in the Wimpey competition. Recently on Tuesday, May 8, “Baba” Mervyn playing off a 28 handicap beat his fellow golfers by winning the Tuesday tournament with a score of 44 points. He told me he took up golf after he was inspired by golfers of the calibre of Papwa Sewgolum, Gary Player and Vincent Tshabalala. “In my younger days I was a damn good golfer and won many tournaments in Durban and at other golf courses on the south and north coast.”
(MERVYN BOOTH CUTTING THE CAKE AT HIS 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT THE ATHLONE GOLF CLUB ON SAT MAY 12 2018) Life for “Baba” Mervyn, who speaks fluent IsiXhosa and IsiZulu, has not been an easy ride. At the age of seven, his parents moved from Sydney Road in Durban to Swartberg, near Kokstad, to work on a farm called Balmoral. His uncle, Harry Conolly, leased the farm and he recalled that some “political” people should seek shelter on the farm. “I was a young man and I did not know what was going on. But I was told by my parents that my uncle provided shelter for some very important people who were fighting for freedom. “It was only later I found out that some of the people he provided shelter to at the farm were Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu. My uncle also provided them with transport to move them from one hide out place to another.” After attending primary school in Lusikisiki and Aliwal North, young Mervyn attended a trade school for four years at the St Andrews Mission and the St Jospeh’s Trade School.
(ATHLONE GOLF MEMBERS CELEBRATING THE 90TH BIRTHDAY OF MERVYN BOOTH) After working in Kokstad for six months as a carpenter, young Mervyn moved to Durban at the age of 18. He stayed in Prince Edward Street and at the young age of 24 in 1952 he married Conctance McNeal with whom he had five children – three boys and two girls. When his wife passed on in the mid-1960s, Mervyn Booth married Kathija Sayed from the Grey Street area in Durban. Despite the prejudices of that time, Mervyn and his “Indian” wife continued with their married life and produced two children – a daughter and a son. Mervyn is now a great-grand-father and has outlived two of his sons. “Despite the hurdles of my early life and my tough working life as a carpenter, I managed to spare some time for golf. “I believe being involved in golf has given me long life. I will continue to play until my last. I want to be an inspiration to others who reach the ripe-old age like me,” he said. – ends (May 18 2018) mjio908(