Gandhi’s historic march to be marked

2013-11-26 00:00

HISTORY will be made on Saturday when 1 000 people travel by train from Durban and Pietermaritzburg to Charlestown near Newcastle to mark the great march led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1913. Many more participants are expected to travel by car as the train, which seats 1 080 people, is fully booked up.

The 1913 passive resistance march was the last campaign led by Gandhi before he left South Africa in 1914. It was also the first time Indian women took part in a protest march and many, including Gandhi’s wife Kasturba, ended up being imprisoned.

Saturday’s historic event will see India’s Secretary of Culture, Rajesh Singh, participating in the event.

The train will pick up passengers from the Durban station at 1.45 am on Saturday, November 30. It will stop at Pietermaritzburg, leaving at 3.30 am, stopping at Ladysmith and Dundee, before stopping at the Newcastle train station. Buses will transport passengers to the Charlestown Mosque where Gandhi’s march started. The commemorative march will start at 10 am from the mosque and participants will walk about six kilometres to the Volksrust Prison, where Gandhi and Kasturba were imprisoned.

A mass rally at the prison will be addressed by Singh and various dignitaries including Minister of Correctional Services Sbu Ndebele. Buses will then return those who had travelled by road and rail back to Charlestown.

The 1913 march led by Gandhi started on November 6, when 2 500 protesters illegally crossed the Natal border into the Transvaal without permits. There were two issues they were protesting. The first was government’s refusal to scrap a £3 tax, required to be paid by every Indian over the age of 16 who had been freed from indenture. The second was a decision by the Cape Supreme Court by presiding Judge Cameron Searle that effectively annulled all marriages conducted by Hindu and Muslim rites. The campaign continued well into January 1914 when the colonial government agreed to abolish the tax, recognise Indian marriages as legal and release the passive resistors from prison.

For more information on the march, phone 081 750 1004 or e-mail

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