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Indres Elatchininathan Naidoo

The Order of Mendi for Bravery in

Indres Elatchininathan Naidoo Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the fight against the unjust laws of apartheid, often at times putting his life in danger to ensure freedom for all South Africans.
Profile of Indres Elatchininathan Naidoo

Indres Elatchininathan Naidoo was born on 26 August 1936. During apartheid, Naidoo was a banned person; political prisoner; Secretary of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress, and an Executive Committee Member of the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC). He joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1961 and became a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP). He became deputy representative of the ANC to the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Initially Naidoo worked as a clerk and became the family breadwinner after the death of his father, Narainsamy Thambi Naidoo, a leading political activist, in 1953. He was an active member of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress and became secretary in 1953. He was elected an Executive Committee Member of the TIC in 1958, and was one of the founders of the Human Rights Committee in 1973.

On 17 April 1963, he and two others, Reggie Vandeyar (who was Naidoo’s MK commander) and Shirish Nanabhai, were arrested after they blew up a railway tool shed and tried to dynamite a railway signal relay case. Subsequently two of his other comrades were also arrested, namely Abdulhay Jassat and Laloo Chiba. Naidoo and his friends were among the first to be caught in the then Transvaal while committing sabotage as members of MK after being betrayed by a spy. Naidoo was shot in the shoulder during his capture.

He was taken to the hospital to remove the bullet and then taken to his home to have it searched still with his blood-saturated shirt. He and his comrades were also among the first victims of policemen who were specially trained in brutal and sophisticated torture of freedom fighters.

He became one of the legends of the 1976 youth.

In 1977, he was sent to work for the ANC in Maputo, Mozambique where he was actively involved in MK activities. He was transferred to the ANC headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia in 1987.

From 1988 to 1991, he was sent to Berlin, GDR, as deputy representative of the ANC. The South African regime attempted to assassinate him in Mozambique and in the GDR. He returned to South Africa in 1991 after the unbanning of the ANC.

After the democratic elections in 1994, he was elected as an ANC Senator and a Member of Parliament from 1994 until 1999.

Naidoo is retired but he remains an inspiration to many.