Obituary: A man driven by civic responsibilities

2014-11-07 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG lost one of its oldest struggle stalwarts and most active citizens with the death last week of Ramaswami Munsami (Bandy) Govender.

Govender (88) took part in the 1946 protests against the “Pegging Act”, the precursor to the Group Areas Act.

He belonged to over 20 political, religious and civic organisations in Pietermaritzburg.

However, he was most proud of the fact that he attended the historic Freedom Charter Congress in Kliptown in 1955.

He died last Friday, a week after he was admitted to hospital.

In tributes at his funeral, speakers recalled that he remained active in community affairs right until the weekend he fell ill. This included attending meetings of the African National Congress (ANC) and doing his voluntary work at the Siva Soobramoniar and Marriamem temples.

uMgungundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said that Govender was one of those activists who preferred being a footsoldier for the struggle.

In all his years he never missed a meeting and was always available to be a driver, hand out pamphlets or help with the preparations for rallies.

Bhamjee said Govender was very proud of his congress links and remained a committed member of the ANC. He had worked closely with stalwarts like Dr Chota Motala and A.S. Chetty and would often drive them and other congress members to and from covert meetings. It was his driving that turned him into an activist. In 1946 he started off transporting passive resistors from Pietermaritzburg to Durban to take part in the sit-in on a vacant piece of land in Umbilo Road. He was arrested for being part of that protest and imprisoned for three months.

Govender grew up in Pietermaritzburg, a member of the pioneer, P.M. Govender family. He once said he learnt about civic responsibility through being a member of the Cubs and Boy Scouts. Later he was a volunteer for both the St John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross Society.

He described as his claim to fame winning the Silver Star award from the Pietermaritzburg mayor for skilled driving after he managed to avoid crushing a man to death.

The man was running from the magistrate’s court when he fell in front of Govender’s vehicle, who managed to stop in the nick of time.

Govender has been honoured over the years for his work in various organisations, including the Siva Soobramoniar and Marriammen temples, the Deepavali Cheer Society, the Aryan Benevolent Home, Sunlit Gardens Home, the Natal Indian Congress, the ANC, the Tamil ­Eisteddfod Committee, the Child Welfare Society, the PMB Mental Health Society and the Friends of the Sick Association and the Gandhi Memorial Committee.

He leaves his wife, three sons, daughter-in-law, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.