Saturday, 18 January, 2020
An Unsung Hero – Mosie Moolla Part 1

An Unsung Hero – Mosie Moolla Part 1

The Editor-in-Chief of SUTRA spent time with him to hear his phenomenal story as related hereunder. (This will be a multi-part exclusive that will cover the freedom struggle in South Africa as seen through the eyes of Mr. Moolla)

Mosie Moolla was one of the 156 accused in the South African Treason Trial of 1956-1961. Among his co-accused were giants of the freedom movement as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, O.R Tambo and Ahmed Kathrada.

In the 1950’s he served as Joint-Honorary Secretary of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress. He was expelled from high school in 1952 for taking part in the Defiance Campaign launched jointly by the African National Congress and South African Indian Congress.

In May 1963 he was detained under the notorious 90-Day No-Trial Law and held in solitary confinement. In August, together with Arthur Goldreich, Harold Wolpe and Abdulhay Jassat, he escaped from Marshall Square Police Station, in the heart of Johannesburg and made his way to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) where he joined the external mission of the ANC.

Moosa (Mosie) Mohammed Moolla was born in 1934 in a small Transvaal country town – Christiana. He completed his primary schooling in Bloemhof and then went to Johannesburg to continue with his secondary schooling. He got involved in 1949, at the age of 15, in political activities by joining the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress (TIYC).The TIYC was part of the Transvaal Indian Congress which was allied to the African National Congress.

This was soon after the Nationalist Party (N.P) assumed power in 1945. The N.P. was an extreme right-wing organisation of the Afrikaner white community and believed in the master –race ideology of the Nazis.

In 1894, the Natal

Indian Congress was founded by Mahatma Gandhi. It later became the oldest political

organisation on the African continent and was a precursor and an ally of the African National Congress which was founded in 1912.

“The demon of tribalism was responsible for our downfall, and the National Party capitalized on this. We fought one another while the opposition watched.”

The 1950’s was a period of intense resistance against racism, and colonial domination and for national independence.

The first national political strike in South Africa took place in May 1950 against the so-called Suppression of Communism Act which was not to suppress communism but, in fact, to suppress all opposition to National Party tyranny. The strike was a huge success according to newspaper reports. Unfortunately 18 people were killed by the police to suppress the stay at home.

The ANC and the SAIC (South African Indian Congress) then decided to organise a joint campaign of resistance against white domination and oppression. The two organisations set aside June 26, 1952 as the beginning of the Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws. Nelson Mandela was elected as the National Volunteer-in-Chief and his deputy was Molvi Ismail Ahmed Cachalia. Molvi’s father was a close associate of Gandhiji during the earlier Passive Resistance Campaigns against unjust and discriminatory laws launched by the Mahatma.

The Defiance Campaign of 1952 was a magnificent display of resistance against oppression and tyranny. Over 9,000 South Africans courted voluntary imprisonment during the six months the campaign lasted. Twelve of the T.I.Y.C Executive Committee members courted imprisonment.

In December 1952, a multi-racial batch of resisters (including Mosie Moolla) defied an unjust law preventing non-Africans from entering an African area without the permission of the authorities. The joint leaders of the batch of resisters were Manilal Gandhi (son of the Mahatma) and Patrick Duncan – son of the former Governor-General of South Africa, Sir Patrick Duncan.


For a copy of the original article published in SUTRA Magazine click on the DOWNLOAD ATTACHMENT link below.



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