The Durban 1949 Riots Story By Fatima Meer

The 1949 Durban Riots was one of the turning points in Fatima Meer’s life, listen as she explains how she worked through the aftermath in Cato Manor. It’s been eleven years since Fatima Meer has passed on and, as part of the 160-year celebration of Indian arrival in South Africa, we pay tribute to this amazing woman and struggle stalwart by sharing pieces of her life work which primarily, was devoted to improving life for citizens of South Africa.

In 1949, the city of Durban and surrounds were shaken by the historic and painful incident of the Cato Manor Riots, the horror will never fade. At the cessation of the riots, Fatima threw herself into community work to improve relations between Indian and Zulu people in Durban.

Fatima Meer became Secretary of the League and Bertha Mkhize (president of the ANC Women’s League) became the Chairperson. The League organised a crèche and distributed milk in the poverty-stricken shantytown of Cato Manor. The 1949 Durban Riots was one of the turning points in Fatima’s life, and she spent the better part of her life working tirelessly to improve relationships with her fellow South Africans, promoting justice, reconciliation and non-violent action.

How did Whites instigate violence between Indians and Africans?

Watch as the late Fatima Meer explains the aftermath that she toiled through during the 1949 Cato Manor conflict.

Professor Fatima Meer was born August 12, 1928, and passed away on March 12, 2010.

Showcasing the identity of the South African Indian as we remember the story of the arrival of Indian-indenture 160 years ago to the shores of South Africa. The SA Indian community of South Africa are uniquely African and so are their stories. Submit your piece of history to us for a feature click here


  • Watch ‘At The Edge’ And Other Cato Manor Stories tap here
  • Remembering The Durban 1949 Riots tap here
  • In Pictures: Remembering Fatima Meer tap here

Source: The Choices Program footage by Brown University

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One comment

  1. hi i like to know who the women is with Fatima meer is.she looks so familiar