JOHANNESBURG, December 23 2004
Judge Siraj Desai, who joked about being held in an Indian jail after
being accused of rape, is one of the five South African Indians named
in a Top 100 newsmakers list of 2004.
The other Indians in the list compiled by The Star daily are veteran
activists Amina Cachalia and Frene Ginwala; housewife Farida Gabru;
and choreographer Jay Pather.
Desai maintained his humour and said "even Indira Gandhi slept
on cold jail floors" after he was arrested in Mumbai in January
on rape charges brought by colleague Salome Isaacs at a conference they
were attending there. The high profile case made major headlines in
India and here, but Desai was later acquitted after Isaacs dropped the
Gabru was hailed as "a wife in a million" after the 49-year-old
housewife shed 38 kg in record time to save her husband's life. Her
husband needed a kidney to save him from dying of renal failure. Her
kidney was found to be compatible, but could only be removed if she
In 1956, Amina Cachalia led a march of 20,000 women on the Union Buildings
in Pretoria, seat of the then minority white government, to protest
laws that required only the majority Black community to carry identification
passes at all time. Cachalia is still active in community activities
Frene Ginwala has faded from the political scene after gaining international
recognition as the high profile, no-nonsense speaker of parliament in
South Africa. She wanted to continue for a further five-year term in
the position after elections earlier this year, but the African National
Congress wanted her to take a seat as an ordinary MP.
Pather won a major local award for innovative combinations of dance,
video, art and photography in performances here and in Durban, Cape
Town and New York.