Mr Goolam Vahed presenting his paper.

TITLE OF TALK: Durban’s Afro-Indian race riots of 1949
SPEAKER: Prof Goolam Vahed
The ‘Durban riots’ of 1949 were a bitter conflict marked by racialised violence between Indian and
African residents of the city, which occurred over the course of three days in mid-January 1949.
Beginning in Victoria Street (renamed Bertha Mkhize Street) on the evening of Thursday 13 January,
the homes and businesses of Indian residents were attacked and looted, and many victims claimed
that the aggression appeared co-ordinated. As a result of low-key police response to the initial
outbreak, the rioting and looting resumed the following day when many hostel dwellers were
incited to participate in further attacks, which spread from the central Durban area to suburban
neighbourhoods of Cato Manor, Clairwood and Jacobs. Deadly violence ensued with murders and
rapes being reported in addition to widespread arson and robbery. On Saturday the military and
police were eventually deployed to re-establish order in Durban. In all, 142 people lost their lives,
1087 people were injured, an estimated 40 000 refugees were created, and over 300 buildings were
destroyed and 2000 structures damaged. This presentation will examine the causes and
consequences of the riots.
Goolam Vahed did his undergraduate degree at the University of Durban-Westville and PhD at
Indiana University, Bloomington. He teaches in the Department of History at the University of
KwaZulu-Natal and has written on various aspects of the history of Indians, Muslims and cricket in
South Africa. His most recent work is Chota Motala. A Biography of Political Activism in the
KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

Newspaper article relating to Prof Goolam Vahed’s address at SANS.



Durban’s Afro-Indian race riots of 1949 – Professor Goolam Vahed.