The late Swaminathan ‘Swami’ Karuppa Gounden speaking to members of the media. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU.
The late Swaminathan ‘Swami’ Karuppa Gounden speaking to members of the media. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU.

Struggle veteran Swami Gounden to be laid to rest in Durban

By Jehran Naidoo Time of article published Dec 2, 2021

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Durban - One of the last surviving people present at the signing of South Africa’s Freedom Charter in 1955 at the Kliptown Conference in Soweto, Swaminathan ‘Swami’ Karuppa Gounden, will be laid to rest on Thursday in a special ceremony at the Clare Estate Crematorium in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Gounden died at the age of 94 on Tuesday. He was born in Durban in 1927.

Gounden, who joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1944, was hailed as a veteran of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation.

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala was scheduled to deliver Gounden’s eulogy but announced he had come into contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19 and was going into self-isolation.

“Comrade Swami joined the SACP in 1944, and wholeheartedly fought against the colonial and apartheid regime. He practically contributed to the resistance struggles, actively organising the people to take part in their own struggles. Among those struggles were the 1946–48 Passive Resistance Campaign, which was a response to the Smuts government’s introduction of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill.

“The trade union movement also benefited from the contributions of Comrade Swami. He was also active in the underground structures of the African National Congress. For his revolutionary activities in the underground, he was arrested in 1964 by the apartheid regime under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.

“The apartheid regime kept him in brutal solitary confinement for three months. As the State did not gather sufficient evidence to convict him, he was acquitted conditionally at the beginning of 1965 but remained listed as a terrorist under the Suppression of Communism Act and was only removed from the list in 1991 after the unbanning of political organisations.

“The apartheid regime barred Comrade Swami from political activities. Determined to make his contributions to the liberation of the people, Comrade Swami refused to abide by the apartheid regime’s dictatorship. He continued his activism among the masses, taking part in many community activities in resistance to apartheid.

In 1983, he defied the regime’s barring and attended the launch of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Cape Town, and became an active member of the UDF, attending meetings and speaking on public forums,” the SACP said on Thursday.

The ANC’s provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said: “His contribution and community service towards improving the living conditions of the oppressed people have been profoundly recognised. Because of his dedication and service to the people of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa bestowed him with the order of Luthuli.”

The South African Communist Party (SACP) also paid tribute to Gounden, saying he had joined the SACP in 1944 and wholeheartedly fought against the colonial and apartheid regime.

“He practically contributed to the resistance struggles, actively organising the people to take part in their own struggles. Among those struggles were the 1946–48 Passive Resistance Campaign, which was a response to the Smuts government’s introduction of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill,” the SACP said in a statement.

“The trade union movement also benefited from the contributions of Comrade Swami. He was also active in the underground structures of the African National Congress. For his revolutionary activities in the underground, he was arrested in 1964 by the apartheid regime under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.

“The apartheid regime kept him in brutal solitary confinement for three months. As the State did not gather sufficient evidence to convict him, he was acquitted conditionally at the beginning of 1965 but remained listed as a terrorist under the Suppression of Communism Act and was only removed from the list in 1991 after the unbanning of political organisations.

The apartheid regime barred Comrade Swami from political activities. Determined to make his contributions to the liberation of the people, Comrade Swami refused to abide by the apartheid regime’s dictatorship. He continued his activism among the masses, taking part in many community activities in resistance to apartheid.“

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Political Bureau

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