CAN ONE LEAVE THE TRANSVAAL?
A correspondent has asked whether an Indian who now leaves the Transvaal can return later, say, in June. According to the new Act an Indian will, in this situation, have to take out a new permit If he does not, he will have to go to gaol. Those, therefore, who have overcome the fear of imprisonment can boldly return. Those who are afraid had better stay out. If you are brave, you may come and go without fear.
WHEN ARE SHOPS TO BE CLOSED FOR THE DAY?
This question does not arise out of the Act. A letter from Machadodorp says that the police in the town require the Indian traders to close their shops early. If the police are doing this, it is illegal. But my advice to all Indian traders is that they should everywhere close their shops at the same time as the whites. We need not wait for legal compulsion. There is no doubt though that the necessary law will be passed in a few months. Municipalities have already been empowered to frame such bye-laws. Grace lies in doing a thing before we are forced to do it.
Those who are in the Transvaal by right ought to defend their honour stubbornly. I can think only of two exceptions in relation - to this reply -the Imam of a mosque and the Hindu Shastri. These two have come in for imparting religious instruction. Had the new Act not come into force, they would have had no difficulty in getting permits for a further period. Now they cannot take out new permits, but they can prolong their stay after duly informing the Government-but only with the intention of going to gaol. They can argue that they neither carry on a trade nor have they a share in anyone's income and that their sole function is to impart religious instruction to their people. They cannot, therefore, leave. This argument does not, however, apply to private persons who are here for business reasons. They may well be prepared to prove their courage by going to gaol, but I have to tell them respectfully that they may not enjoy the privilege of imprisonment. Holders of temporary permits do not have the rights of refugees.
A hawker may not stay at the same place for more than 20 minutes for purposes of his business, and he may not visit the same place, more than once in the course of a day. Hawking is prohibited on mining ground. A hawker cannot take his wares out of his barrow for display as in a shop. Garden-produce can be sold by the grower or his servant without a licence, and in such a case the said regulations do not apply. Regulations to this effect have been framed for the Johannesburg municipal area, and they will probably receive the Governor's sanction in a week or two. These regulations mean that no person with a hawking licence can stay at the same place. The President Street Market will henceforth be closed [to hawkers], that is, persons doing business there will need to have a shopkeeper's licence. The regulations are of course harsh, but as they apply equally to whites and non-whites, nothing can be done about them. Similar regulations have been framed by the Krugersdorp municipality also. In effect, the municipality frankly says that, since most of the licence-holders are Indians, there is no harm in making the regulations as stringent as possible.
At last, the tramway matter has been decided. The regulations which were opposed by the British Indian Association have now been passed and published in the Gazette. There are some good points about them. For example, the phrase "Coloured person" does not include an Asiatic. The regulations cover other points besides, some of which are dealt with below: The Town Council has the right to reserve any tram-car or any part of it for Europeans or Asiatics or Coloured persons. The Council has the authority to grant special permission to any person to travel by any tram-car. The servants accompanying white children can travel by all tram-cars. A servant is allowed to travel with his master by any tram-car that the master is authorized to use. The Council is bound to provide reasonable facilities for travellers of all classes. Two points in these regulations deserve to be noted. One is that the servants of whites, however dark, can travel by the same car as their masters. The other is that, according to Section 20, 'dogs can be carried in the car meant for the whites, provided the conductor does not object. In other words, unlike dogs and black servants, a free Indian will not be free to travel by a tram-car of his choice unless a special permit has been obtained by him for that purpose. In reply to this, one may point out that the whites cannot travel in cars meant for the blacks either. The only difference, however is that, while the whites are ranked with the Queen Mother, Coloured Persons and Indians are treated like the youngest housewife in the village. My advice is that, under such humiliating conditions, no one should ask for a permit. It all depends on us whether or not we continue to be treated as the youngest housewife in the village.
From the current issue of the Gazette, I find that the Locations at Christiana, Heidelberg, Potgeitersrust, Rustenburg and Volkstroom have been made over to their respective municipalities. Locations at Roosenekal, Leysdorp, Amersfoort and other places have been closed down.
WASHERMEN AT NEW CLARE
The editor of this journal has sent to The Sunday Times a reply to its attack on the New Clare washermen. The reply shows that the accusations made in The Sunday Times by a 'Mr. Volture' were all false. The editor claims that the water flowing from the spring is not dirty. The water used for washing is changed twice a day. Indian washermen do not get their work done on a contract basis. Their houses are clean, and everything in them has been inspected by the municipality. Indian washermen hold certificates of efficiency from well-known Euorpeans. The editor has accordingly asked for an apology from the correspondent who wrote in The Sunday Times. In reply to this, the editor of The Sunday Times writes that the arguments of the editor of Indian Opinion are weighty and convincing. He wishes to publish a reply, but that AMr. Volture@ is ill and his reply may take a week or two. This shows that, for the present at any rate, The Sunday Times has suffered a defeat. For the information of those who may not know it, I should say that a 'Mr. Volture' is a pseudonym. It means vulture, the bird of prey.* This human vulture had meant to eat up the Indian washermen, but it will not be wrong to say that for the present they have been rescued from its clutches by the editor of Indian Opinion.
A cable has been published in the newspapers here to say that Mr. Ritch has addressed a letter to the well-known paper, The Times. Therein he has smashed Mr. Curtis's argument. He has put forward a strong argument in defence of the Indian community and shown how Mr. Chamney's Report is really in our favour. Mr. Ritch has been doing invaluable work. Day and night his mind is engaged in the same thought. He misses no opportunity of pleading our cause.
*[Tharpa's commentary: vultures are not actually birds of prey, but scavengers.]