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Moosa (Mosie) Moolla

The Order of Luthuli in

Moosa (Mosie) Moolla Awarded for:
For his dauntless and excellent work in the liberation movement often at great risk to his life and for representing the interests of the liberation movement and South Africa in the international community.

Profile of Moosa (Mosie) Moola

Moolla’s involvement in the liberation movement runs deep. His activism stems from a family background steeped in the history of struggle. He was born on 12 June 1934 in Christiana in what is now the North West province, to parents who had emigrated from the Indian state of Gujarat. He joined the Congress Movement at the age of 15. As a schoolboy in 1952, he participated as a volunteer in the Defiance Campaign and was subsequently expelled from school.

He was joint Honorary Secretary of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress for nearly 10 years and later served as its Chairman. He was also an Executive Committee member of the Transvaal Indian Congress. In December 1956, he was arrested on allegations of High Treason, together with 155 other Congress activists from all sections of society and all walks of life. Among the accused were Chief Albert John Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Ruth First, Ahmed Kathrada, Helen Joseph and Lillian Ngoyi.

The Treason Trial lasted for nearly five years, and Moolla was among the last 30 accused who saw the entire trial through. In 1960 he was detained during the State of Emergency following the Sharpeville massacre. In May 1963, he was among the first 14 South Africans to be detained under the notorious 90-day no-trial clause of the General Laws Amendment Act at Marshall Square Police Station in Johannesburg. He was re-detained after completing his first 90-day period.

Together with fellow detainees (Abdulhay Jassat, Arthur Goldreich and Harold Wolpe), he organised an escape in August 1963. They made their way to Tanzania via Botswana where Molla joined the external mission of the ANC in Dar-es-Salaam as editor of the ANC’s weekly news journal Spotlight on South Africa for a number of years.

In 1965, he joined Umkhonto we Sizwe and spent a year and a half in the USSR receiving specialised military training. On Moolla’s return to Tanzania he continued editing Spotlight on South Africa both in Dar-es-Salaam and later in Lusaka, Zambia, where his late wife Zubeida joined him in exile. In 1969 he was sent to work among South African students in Bombay, India, and in 1972 joined the Asian Mission of the ANC in New Delhi as its Chief Representative.

In 1978, Moolla was posted to Cairo as ANC Chief Representative in Egypt and the Middle East and concurrently as ANC representative on the Permanent Secretariat of the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organisation.

In 1982, he was re-posted to India as ANC Chief Representative. In 1989, he was posted to Helsinki, Finland, to serve as ANC Secretary on the Secretariat of the World Peace Council. His years in exile were dedicated to the propagation of the South African cause for freedom and human dignity and to mobilise international support for the struggle against apartheid.

After the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Nelson Mandela, he returned to South Africa in November 1990, and joined the Department of International Affairs of the ANC. He was a member of the Transvaal and Natal Indian Congresses delegation to the Codesa talks and was on the list of ANC members of Parliament during the first democratic elections in 1994.

In 1995 he was sent to the Islamic Republic of Iran as South Africa’s first Ambassador and from 2000, he was South African High Commissioner to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. On his return in 2004, he was appointed to mentor new diplomats-in-training at the Foreign Services Institute of the then Department of Foreign Affairs in Pretoria.

During his 28 years in exile Moolla has written widely on the South African struggle for various newspapers, journals and broadcast periodically on the external services of All-India Radio. He represented the ANC at various meetings of the United Nations Special Committee against apartheid, and as a member of ANC delegations to Non-Aligned Movement Summits and solidarity events in various capitals of the world.