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Proposal to rename Roodepoort streets after Muslim struggle heroes

Radio Islam News | 12 Rabi uth Thani 1437/11 January 2016

A meeting is set to take place this evening in Roodepoort to discuss the proposed renaming of two streets in the town after Muslim anti-apartheid struggle heroes.

The City of Johannesburg in November issued notice of its proposal to rename Mare Street to Ahmed Timol Street and Harold Street to Amina Desai Street. The proposal was in line with the City’s policy on the naming and renaming of streets and other public places within its environs.

Upon its issue of the notice, the City requested written representations on the proposal which it said would be duly considered.

At tonight’s meeting to be convened at the Roodepoort City Hall, the councillor for Ward 84, Gert Niemand has invited Roodepoort residents to be affected by these proposed changes to raise their concerns or lend their support.

The late Timol, a teacher by profession, was a member of the South African Communist Party, and the first political detainee to die at the hands of the Security Police at the notorious John Vorster Police Station in Johannesburg. His family lived for a lengthy period on a flat in Mare Street, Roodepoort, and Timol taught at the Roodepoort Indian School where he was well loved and respected by colleagues and students alike. Last October, it was announced that the inquest into his mysterious and painful death in police custody would be reopened by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) upon the uncovering of new evidence by the Timol family.

Desai was South Africa’s longest serving female Indian political prisoner. Her home at 12 Harold Street, Roodepoort, was used by activists as an underground base. It was also a second home to Timol, and in return for his running of her errands, Desai would allow Timol use of her car. 

Citing her close association with Timol, Desai was kept in solitary confinement for several months after Timol’s death by the Apartheid Authorities, and was sentenced to five years under the Terrorism Act for furthering the aims of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1972.

After five years imprisonment at the Barberton and Kroonstad Prisons, Desai was released from prison in 1978, then banned, and placed under house arrest for a further five years. 
In 2004, she joined her family in Ireland.

Desai passed away in Dublin on 10 June 2009 at the age of 89.

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