Durban Riot

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The Durban riots was an anti-Indian riot predominantly by Zulus targeting Indians in Durban, South Africa in January 1949.[1] The riots resulted in the massacre of predominantly poor Indians. In total 142 people died in the riots and another 1,087 people were injured. It also lead to the destruction of 58 shops, 247 dwellings and one factory.[1]

Thursday riots[edit]

On Thursday the 13 January 1949 ethnic Indians in the centre of the Indian business area of Durban were assaulted by black Africans. After a few hours of rioting the violence subsided with little destruction of property. Initially the violence was limited to destruction of property with little looting taking place.[2] An account by a police detective present at the riots states that there was an organised element to the riots within the Zulu community and that "a group of men were preventing bus drivers from departing from the centre, leaving thousands of African passengers stranded in the centre. Many of them were dock workers who depended on busses to take them to the docks in Point Road. And agitators were busy among the passengers. The talk was that the time had come to rid the country of the Indians."[2]

Friday riots[edit]

On Friday the following day a large group of black Africans attacked the Indian business area with an assortment of improvised weapons attacking both property and people. Looting took place despite the efforts of the police and a number of Europeans present egged on the protesters and subsequently joined the looting. The riot then spread to the peri-urban areas of Durban where a numerous acts of murder, arson, rape, and looting took place.[1]

The Ilanga Lase Natal, Natal's leading black African, defended the riots and put the blame on the targeted victims of the riots, the Indian community. Stating that 'the whole grim business was logical, simply inevitable'. The Ilanga Lase Natal listed "the following reasons for the convulsions: black-marketeering by Indians, Indian opposition to the economic expansion of the African, 'shacketeering' by Indian landlords, social and racial humiliation of Africans by Indians, but in reality Indians were treated far worse by Europeans because they were given the terms coolie and the jealousy that blacks and whites showed because Indians started going from extremely poor and servitude status to being their owners through close knit networks and pre planning steps in business, and these were just Indian descendants from low caste groups that were out competing blacks and whites, who descended from an extremely poor area of India, like Bihar, it was despised by Europeans and Africans that a bunch of dark skin inferior looking trash could become their rulers and then take their women also, because they were termed to be genetically inferior according to white scientist ."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Durban riots, 1949". South African History Online. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Swanepoel, Piet (October 23, 2012). "On massacres forgotten and remembered". Politics Web. Retrieved October 23, 2012.