Twenty leaders of the Congress movement were formally charged under the Suppression of Communism Act. As an act of solidarity with its leaders, the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress (TIYC) organized scholars of the Johannesburg Indian High School to march to the Regional Court in Fox Street where the trial was being held. Nearly 500 students participated in the demonstration out of solidarity.
During the Defiance Campaign of 1952 Moolla became a volunteer and courted imprisonment. He was part of a group of defiers representing all national groups led jointly by Manilal Gandhi (son of Mahatma Gandhi) and Patrick Duncan – son of former Governor-General of South Africa. He was consequently expelled from school for taking part in political activities during his final matriculation year.
The Defiance Campaign became one of the first major acts of resistance against the oppressive apartheid system. Over 9000 men and women volunteers courted imprisonment. The Campaign highlighted the country’s oppressive, unjust and racist policies and placed South Africa firmly in the eyes of the world-at-large. It was the beginning of South Africa been branded as a patriarchal state and in later years the
country’s policies became a permanent feature and item on the agenda of the UN General Assembly. The Campaign also helped swell the ranks of the ANC. In the Transvaal Province alone, its membership increased from a mere 10 000 to well over 120 000. Oppressed and exploited South Africans were re-invigorated and were determined to liberate themselves from the yoke of racial tyranny and to bring about freedom in their lifetime.
Following the Defiance Campaign the Congress Alliance comprising the ANC, SAIC, S.A. Coloured People’s Organization and the newly formed Congress of Democrats, together with the newly established South African Congress of Trade Unions – the predecessor of COSATU, embarked upon the Congress of the People Campaign that was to culminate in the adoption of the historic Freedom Charter in June 1955 at Kliptown, Johannesburg.
Moolla served as the Secretariat of the National Action Council of the Congress of the People on a full time basis for two years. In December 1956 together with 156 activists and leaders of the Liberation Movement, he was arrested on allegations of High Treason – High Treason being a capital offence. Amongst the accused were Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Chief A. J. Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Helen Joseph, Ahmed Kathrada and Lillian Ngoyi.
The Treason Trial dragged on for nearly five years. Thirty of the accused who were used as guinea pigs, saw the entire trial through but were acquitted in 1961 – Mosie amongst them. Moolla continued being active partially and was charged for incitement in 1961 for his involvement in the anti-republican strike called by the banned ANC. He was again acquitted due lack of evidence. In May 1963 he was amongst the first people detained under the notorious 90 Day No Trial Law. Kept in solitary confinement and incommunicado without the right of Habeas Corpus, he was re-detained for a second 90 day period but escaped from detention together with his fellow detainees from the maximum security police station (Marshall Square) in central Johannesburg.
He made his way to Tanzania (then Tanganycha) where he joined the External Mission of the ANC and edited its weekly news journal – ‘Spotlight on South Africa’ – for a number of years before being posted to New Dehli, India, to head the ANC’s Asian Mission. He was the ANC Chief Representative from 1972 – 1978 and then posted to Egypt and the Middle East. He concurrently served on the Permanent Secretariat of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO). In 1982 he was re-posted to New Delhi to head the Mission and in 1989 he was posted to Finland (Helsinki) to serve as ANC Representative on The World Peace Council.
After 28 years of exile he returned to South Africa in December 1990 and served on the ANC’s Department of International Affairs (DIA) for a number of years before being appointed by President Mandela as South Africa’s first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran for four years. On his return he was posted to Islamabad, Pakistan, as High Commissioner.
Moolla was part of the NIC/TIC delegation at the CODESA talks. His wife Zubeida, who spent most of her life in exile with him, passed away last year. His son Afzal was born in New Delhi. Mosie had to leave his daughter Tasneem and son Afzal who was born after his escape from detention in 1963. He is currently in semi-retirement.
Team SUTRA salutes this giant of a man – a true Son of Africa – for his untold sacrifices and suffering in his quest for the freedom of South Africa. We wish him well!