About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Passive Resistance

Passive resistance was first employed by Indian people in Natal under the guidance of Gandhi, who based these campaigns on his philosophy of satyagraha. Earlier passive resistance campaigns – non violent protests, defiance of laws and inviting arrest – had been employed against discriminatory legislation designed to repatriate Indians and curtail their movements. In the 1940s these restrictions became ever more pervasive. The so-called 'Pegging' Act of 1943 and the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act of 1946 (the 'Ghetto' Act) marginalized Indians and prevented ownership of property in designated 'white' areas. This sparked a determined passive resistance campaign orchestrated by the young and more radical leaders of the NIC* and SAIC,* including setting up camp in June 1946 in a 'restricted' area in Durban until the protesters were arrested and imprisoned. The campaign carried on for 2 years and as many as 2 000 people were arrested. It had an important impact on Indian women, initiating a new political activism in their ranks. It also prompted the government of India to break off trade relations with South Africa and withdraw diplomatic contact. International approbation was aroused when the UN debated the increasing oppression exercised by the white minority government in South Africa. Indian leaders, for their part, realised the importance of establishing links across the racial divide and the Xuma-Naicker-Dadoo Pact (also known as the 'Doctor's Pact') was signed, subsequently leading to Indian participation in the Congress Alliance.*

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.