About SATF


The South African Tamil Federation is the National body of the Tamils and represents the Tamil community in all aspects such as culture, religion, education both English and Tamil. Prior to the establishment of the National body there were many organizations, societies and temple organizations representing the South Indian community throughout the Republic of South Africa. Wherever there were large concentrations of the community there were several organizations and quite a few of these organization were formed on the basis of the caste system. The caste system which was carried from our motherland (Tamilnadu) was very much practiced here though of recent it has broken down as a result of the western influence (Interview with Mr T.P. Naidoo).

The formation of the South African Tamil Federation dates back to the early sixties. At regular intervals there were meetings of a varied nature such as music competitions, cultural and religious events. Mr N.C. Naidoo attend one of these meetings held in Pretoria which was arranged by the Hindu shoe-maker group. There were delegates from various centres of South Africa including Maputo (then Lorenco Marques). On Mr Naidoo’s return to Durban he had consultations with various personalities on the issue of a national body. At that time the Natal Tamil Vedic Society enjoyed widespread prominence due to its Eisteddfod Movement started in 1963. There were many people from all walks of life keen on becoming members of the Natal Tamil Vedic Society but were unable to gain membership due to the strict conditions of the constitution.

The political history of the country saw the devastating effect of the Group Areas Act put into action. The forced removal of the Indian community caused the disintegration of settled communities into areas barren of facilities. Concerned intellectuals and social workers had regular meetings to form a national body so as to safeguard the welfare of the Tamil people.

A mass meeting of the Tamils was convened by interested person in November 1967 at the Natal Tamil Vedic Society Hall. The convenors were Messrs. V.S. Iyer, Thambiran, J.R. Devar, M.S. Naidoo, T.P. Naidoo and Jimmy Aroomugam.

Delegates from 22 organizations were present . Discussions emanating from this meeting centres around the need for a National body to represent the Tamil people. The meeting ended on a successful note of convening a Confererence and the Inauguration of a South African Body. The date set was for Easter 1968 over a 3 day period and the venues were the Clairwood Tamil Institute, Pelican Restaurant and the Siva Subramaniar Temple Hall (Clairwood). The Conference committee consisted of the original convenors together with Messrs . T. Vadivelu, K.M. Naidu, Mrs V.L. Naidoo, Mrs Dhanam Moodley, Mrs Sarojini Pillay, Tony Iyavoo, M. Anban, A. Sothinathan, K. Chinnappan, S.A. Rajan, Roy Naidoo, S.G. Padayachee and P.N. Naidoo.

Delegates from all parts of South Africa attended the Conference. After a Civic Reception at the Pelican Restaurant a number of papers were read by:

Messrs. J.N. Reddy

“Economics of the Tamils”

V.S. Iyer

“Language, Culture and Religion”

R.G. Pillay

“Tamil Education in South Africa”

  1. Subramoney

“Tamil – the beautiful language”

J.R. Devar

”The Need for a South African Tamil Organisation”


The following day at the C.T.O. Hall a formal resolution was moved by Dr. P. Muthukrishna and seconded by Messrs. V.G. Padayachee and J.N. Reddy. This was:


            “The establishment of the South African Tamil Federation


The First Committee comprised of: President V.S. Iyer, Secretary – Roy Naidoo, Treasurer – J.N. Reddy, Asst Treasurer S.G. Padayachee and Planner – J.R. Devar.


Committee Members:             Messrs. K.M. Naidu, P.I. Devan, T.P. Naidoo, J. Aroomugam, M.S. Naidoo, K. Chinnappan, M. Anban, Tony Iyavoo, A. Sothinathan, Thambiran, P.N. Naidoo, Donald, T. Vadivelu, Mrs Dhanam Moodley, Mrs Sarojini Pillay, Mrs V.L. Naidoo, I. Kistraj, M.R. Moodley, N.M. Naidoo, M.N. Pillay and L. Nagamuthoo.


After the conference great enthusiasm was expressed giving the Tamil Community a deep sense of dignity and respectability. Regular monthly meetings were held and the attendance was very good.


Matters of a wide range viz; socio-economic, vernacular, education and cultural were discussed to bring about solidarity and unity of the Tamil people.


The activities were Annual Conferences, Biennial General Meetings, Tamil School’s Gala Day (Annually), Celebrations-Pongal, New Year, Bharathiar, Tamil Teacher’s Training Courses (Annually), Lecture Tours – Tamil History and Culture (K.C. Gounden).


At the 1970 Annual Conference three resolutions were moved:


  1. Establishment of a Headquarters and Teacher Training Centre (Tamil).
  2. Promotion of Cottage Industries.
  3. Unity of the Tamil People.


Other long term planning was a youth leaguer wing, Eisteddfod on a National basis, Religious symposium – common prayer book, uniformity in religious practices.


In 1971 a resolution was moved to purchase a plot of land in Chatsworth. The Durban City Council allotted a half-acre in Silverglen on receipt of the applications. The need for a centralized meeting place was an urgent requirement to facilitate administration matters. Mr Charles Pillay offered his flat in Hampson Grove, Durban.


This was a blessing, as much was achieved in keeping pace with correspondence and publicity.


At the 2nd B.G.M. held in 1972 Mr Vandayar moved for a new constitution supported by Mr K.C. Balakisten, The original constitution allowed open membership to individuals and organizations and this created problems especially for the establishment of Regional bodies. During the presidency of Mr T. Vadivelu, Mr C. Kuppusami was invited to pave the way to foster and propagate the Tamil language. Mr Kuppusami was a Tamil scholar and Inspector of Schools and was given the Mandate to:


  1. Introduce Tamil in the English School syllabus.
  2. Introduce Part-time matric level classes at the M.L. Sultan Technikon and       elsewhere.
  3. Write to the Joint Matriculation Board to include Tamil as a third language.
  4. Make efforts to standardize the teaching of Tamil by setting up an      examination board THAMIZH       KAZHAGAM – whose duty was to     compile a syllabus, conduct   examinations, and issue certificates of competence both to teachers and      pupils.


Most of these were accomplished but with a lot of difficulty. The Brindhaven High School was the first to offer Tamil in the Std 6 curriculum. For a number of years the S.A.T.F. enjoyed widespread support and the highlights in the seventies was the hosting of the Pithukuli Murugadas concert. The Tenth Annual Tamil Conference was opened by His Worship, the Mayor of Isipingo, Councilor: P. Paruman in 1979


At this function Councilor Paruman launched the Trust Fund to effect the aims and objectives of S.A.T.F. In spite of all the efforts put in at these conferences as well as the children’s gala the S.A.T.F. could not get off the ground and achieve Tamil Unity/Solidarity on a National scale.


A crucial meeting took place between the S.A.T.F. and the Natal Tamil Vedic Society on Thursday, 18th June 1979.


S.A.T.F. Delegation: Saiva Pulavar K.C. Gounden, Messrs. P. Paruman, C. Kuppusami, P.I. Devan, J.R. Devar, Tony Iyavoo and M.M. Pillay. N.T.V.S.: Full Council lead by Messrs. C.G. Chetty, Pavadai R. Pather and M.N. Pather. This meeting was to invite the N.T.V.S. to affiliate to the S.A.T.F. which will lead the way to the consolidation programme of all other organizations. In view of the fact that N.T.V.S. always stood for Tamil Unity they agreed in principle to assist the S.A.T.F. rearrange the constitution to allow its Provincial Body to affiliate. This historic meeting paved the way for the establishment of the Transvaal and Cape Tamil Federations. To a large extent the Eisteddfod movement of the N.T.V.S. was responsible for the unity of the Tamil community as was seen in the Transvaal. This cultural exercise was responsible for the formation of Tamil organizations in most parts of the Republic and mobilizing the children and youth with a common understanding. It is only with a matter of time that the dream of a National Eisteddfod envisaged in the sixties will become a reality when the Cape joins in.


The eighties and nineties led the S.A.T.F. into a new dimensions such as the:


  1. First National Tamil Conference 1983 – hosted jointly by the S.A.T.F. and the  N.T.V.S. The guest speaker was Mr K. Puniamurti of Singapore.


  1. The establishment of a Department of Tamil at the University of Durban –  Westville. Saiva Pulavar K.C. Gounden was appointed to the post.


  1. Appointment of delegates to represent S.A.T.F. at all SABC/TV. Meetings.


  1. Committee to monitor the English and Vernacular education at both primary  and secondary school levels.


  1. Inputs to the syllabus on Indian music and Language – at primary schools.


  1. Publication of books “Three Pillars of Tamil” – Mr C. Kuppusami. “Tamil     Primer” and “Saivism” – Mr N.C. Naidoo   and standardization of Thevaram  singing – Mrs S. Moodley.


  1. Inputs to the publication of the first compendium of “Gita/Thirukkural”.


  1. Part of the delegation moving for the implementation of Teaching of Indian Languages (Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Gujarati) in Primary and Secondary   state schools. Statistics compiled by author.
  2. Part of the committee for the building of the Temple of Worship at the University of Durban – Westville.


  1. The successful establishment of the Transvaal and Cape Tamil Federation after a delegation headed by Mr P.  Paruman with Messrs. Dave Pillay,   N.C. Naidoo, K.S. Naicker and Steve  Govender visited Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.


  1. In 1988 at the BGM held in Durban it was proposed and carried that the     Transvaal take over the headquarters of the S.A.T.F. This move was mooted to rotate the headquarters after every             two years. Mr Sathia Pillay was elected President with Messrs. Kisten Naidoo   and M.V. Reddy as Secretaries, Mr       Percy Mestry as Treasurer and Mr P. Paruman as Chairman of Council. Council meetings rotated at various   cities such as Benoni, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Lenasia, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.


  1. During the preliminary discussions between the African National Congress and various leaders, the SA.T.F. was  represented by Messrs. Sathia Pillay, Billy Pillay, and Ramy Pillay in Lusaka,  Zambia. Following this meeting the    S.A.T.F. moved a resolution “Benoni Minute” condemning all Apartheid legislation and to involve itself politically.


  1. After the release of Nelson Mandela and all the political prisoners the S.A.T.F. hosted a reception/meeting at   the Johannesburg Sun Hotel with Messrs. Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Vally  Moosa and others of the African        National Congress.


  1. The S.A.T.F. was invited to all meetings involving the establishment of a  government of National Unity such as  the Patriotic Front, represented by Mrs Sarres Padayachee and Messrs. G.  Naidoo, R. Pillay and B. Gengan.
  1. A number of rallies were organized in Lenasia (Transvaal) such as the Peace March and the Ghandi Walk. Prayers for Peace and Unity were conducted by  Mr Marie Pillay (Lenasia)


  1. A member of the World Council for Religion and Peace (W.C.R.P.) Here Mr Marie Pillay conducted the Hindu   prayer as there first meeting.


  1. Speakers presented papers at the World Tamil Conference in Mauritius in 1989 and again at the first Religious  Forum in Madras in 1992.


  1. Economic Seminar was held in 1986 and notable speakers were Prof. Len Konar and Mr Logie Govender.


  1. Mr R.G. Pillay, Inspector of Indian Education represented the S.A.T.F. at many educational seminars. One such seminar was the “National Education in South Africa” – Grahamstown.


  1. Education bursaries were awarded to students studying Tamil as a major subject for B.A. degree at the University of Durban – Westville.


  1. The S.A.T.F. is an “A” category member of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha.


  1. Over the years newsletters were published highlighting the events and programme of the S.A.T.F. As this did    not work out so well at the last A.G.M. held in Port Elizabeth in 1992 Mrs Sarres Padayachee was appointed the P.R.O. and was made responsible for all media and publicity coverage. The “Thamarai” newsletter was launched covering news of the Provincial units. Messrs. Sathia Pillay, Kisten Naidoo,  Percy Mestry and M.V. Reddy were presented with Citation Awards and Blazers for their contributions made to the S.A.T.F.




It will be noted that from the arrival of the indentured labourers the Indian company did not remain static. They were an industrious lot and very soon adapted to the new foreign environment. Whatever was practiced in their motherland was also continued here such as religious, cultural and vernacular education. As the influx of Indians increased over the years many problems were encountered.

In view of the poor education in English it now became imperative for them to attain some standard of literacy. This was made abundantly clear by Srinivasa Sastri – the Agent-General appointed by the India Government to see to the welfare and treatment of Indians.


Through his wisdom and guidance public money was collected and the first secondary school – Sastri College was built in 1930. Many prominent leaders in the fields of Medicine, Law, Commerce and Education passed through these portals. Some who had been exiled during the repressive period of the political struggle have since returned to take up leadership positions in the Transitional negotiations.

The first political prisoner to die in detention was Valliamma. An account of her life appears separately.


Other men and women was sacrificed their lives in the political struggle, though the list is too numerous for the limited space available, are the late Amma Naidoo, Thailema Pillay, Dr. Monty Naicker, Billy Pillay, Mrs Monty Naicker, Naidoo brothers (London), Billy Nair, Saths Cooper, Indress Naidoo, M.D. Naidoo, M.J. Naidoo, Dr. R. Marsla Pather, Strini Moodley, Thumba Pillay, etc.




Prof. Vella Pillay grew up in Fordsburg and was forced to sell fruit to help make ends meet. He left South Africa in the 1950’s and completed his studies as a graduate of the London School of Economics.


He was a pioneer of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and campaigned for sanctions on South Africa. He missed a valuable opportunity of joining the I.M.F. as the South African government refused to sponsor his appointment because of his colour. While overseas he gained vast experience in the field of economics which included 35 years as an advisor to the Beijing based Bank of China. As he is quoted “I learned more about economics from my practical experience than from my university studies” (Kelvin Brown – Business Day 17/11/93).


He headed a special research project on Economics for a new South Africa – Macroeconomic Research Group (MERG). This project was established in 1992 with Canadian and other foreign financing and included top S.A. university academics. Prof. Pillay was given a platform at the Oliver Tambo memorial speech with the A.N.C.’s blessing.



First student to pass Tamil with Distinction in the Matric Examinations 1993.


For the first time since the inclusion of eastern languages in the Matric curriculum a student took the initiative under trying circumstances. Due to her early grooming in Tamil by her late grandmother – Mrs Govindama Moodley and later by Vidwan V.G. Padayachee she had no difficulty in attempting the examination. Her present tutor is Siva Palanyandi of Tamilnadu. Mr Micky Chetty, chairman of the Lenasia Ext. 6 Tamil School, played a leading role in motivating and encouraging Primothie. Mr Eric Chetty of the T.T.F. and Mr Goorsamy of S.A.T.F. played supporting roles. Congratulations to Primothie and may she keep up the good work and be an inspiration to all other prospective students to follow her example.




This investment company was established in 1989 by a group of individuals belonging to the South African Tamil Federation. The idea as to expand into the Provincial Units and involve as many people as possible from all walks of life. One of the aims was to distribute the profits to cultural and religious organizations and also educational bursaries. As the country is undergoing change at a dramatic pace the future looks bright for this investment group.




  1. B.T. Naidoo 1st non-white to be elected to the South African Medical and Dental Council.




  1. Mr Rajen Pillay 1st non-white appointed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.


  1. Prof. Rajen Padayachee – 1st non-white Medical Director of Health,     Johannesburg City Council.


  1. Prof. Len Konar – 1st non-white appointed on the Reserve Bank Board.


  1. Prof. Jairam Reddy – 1st non-white Rector and Vice Chancellor of the     University of Durban-Westville.


  1. Late Dr. M.B. Naidoo – Fellow of Royal Geographical Society.


The South African Tamil Federation salutes the Merebank Tamil School Society for taking the opportunity of sponsoring four youths to study Tamil for a B.A. degree at the Tanjore University. These students have completed their studies and will be returning shortly to take up teaching posts in South Africa.




It is impossible to relate the vast volume of work accomplished in the two and a half decades. Every effort is being made to uphold and implement the aims and objectives of the constitution. As the S.A.T.F. is a recognized body by the South African National Congress and has always been included in all consultations the future looks bright and promising. It is the duty of every Tamilian to support the S.A.T.F. unequivocally.


Vision and Mission Statement – Emblem Interpretation




To secure the Tamil community of South Africa in a successful democracy and to contribute to global peace and prosperity.




To improve the quality of life, to inculcate strong leadership and to secure the empowerment of the Tamil community of South Africa in the social, cultural, educational, political and economic spheres in support of and in identification with National goals.




The three chevrons illustrate:

The flight of our soaring aspirations.

Hands clasped in prayer.

Doves in flight and our yearning for peace.


The sun on the background symbolizes hope, energy and our allegiance to humanity. The sun represented by the circle and the shimmering concentric circles symbolizes Lord Nadaraja in his pulsating cosmic dance. If Lord Nadaraja stops dancing everything will cease to exist.



VS Iyer
Roy Naidoo
JN Reddy
JR Devar
K Chinappan

L Nagamuthoo
 A Sothinathan
 TP Naidoo
 Mrs S Pillay
Mrs VL Naidoo 

























  • President : Dr Mickey Chetty
  • Deputy President : Major General Balaraman Naidoo
  • Joint Secretaries : Mr Mervyn Reddy & Ms Pauline Naidoo
  • Treasurer : Mr Radha Pillay
  • PRO : Mrs Neela (Shirley) Naran
  • Vice President (Kwa-Zulu Natal) : Mr Richard Govender
  • Vice President  (Western Cape) : Mr Sean Davan
  • Vice President  (Gauteng) : Mr Kovelin Veramoothoo
  • Vice President (Eastern Cape) : Mrs Thinakeseri Balakistnen
  • Vice President (Mpumalanga) : Mrs Premie Govender
  • Vice President (North West) : Mr Preggy Pillay


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Contact Us

Marie Pillay-Ramaya (President)
Tel:084 250 8833
Nadas Pillay(Deputy President)
Tel:082 659 2446

Kamendiri Naidoo (Joint Secretary)
Tel:071 362 5250
Maggie Govinden(Joint Secretary)
Tel:082 464 9509

Neela (Shirley) Naran (Public relations Officer)
Tel:083 554 1981
Tony Reddy(Treasurer)
Tel:083 554 1981
Email: shirley.naran@gauteng.gov.za