March 9, 1926
I enclose herewith a copy of cable received from Johannesburg. I telegraphed the substance to Sorabji but I thought you should have the full text. I have replied "Await decision Committee, Delhi". This reply I have sent in continuation of my assurance to Sorabji that I shall not give any advice to the settlers in South Africa contrary to what the Committee that seems to have been formed there may say or do.
My own opinion however remains unchanged that we are being ourselves in the wrong by absolutely refusing to give evidence even on the principle of the Bill. I have heard the objection namely that our people will not be able to stand the fire of cross-examination and that there is no Indian of sufficient caliber and experience in South Africa who can give evidence. The obvious answer is that no Indian need give evidence. As you will see the Select Committee has asked for a written representation which can be prepared and the Solicitor who may be engaged on our behalf may submit himself for cross examination. I know the difficulty of selecting such a Solicitor or Counsel, but it is not an impossible task. Adam Alexander would not make a bad representative. He is a fairly conscientious man and his sympathies are with us. It is possible to think of others who can also give evidence without compromising or selling the community. What I want to say is that though nothing may come out of the Select Committee, we should not leave it open to them to say that although we were given the opportunity we did not even lead evidence. Let it not be said that in 1914 I boycotted the Solomon Commission. I did so for the simple reason that the community had taken the solemn resolution that if the Government did not widen the terms of the Commission and appoint a representative on behalf of the community on the Commission it would be boycotted. Hence the adherence to the resolution. Even so it could be recalled that before even the Commission sat, I had come to an understanding with General Smuts that the Asiatic Act would be repealed and that General Smuts would require from the Commission a finding that would enable him to offer us an honourable settlement. This is a matter partly of record.
I hope you are keeping well and I wish you every success in the delicate tasks which are just now engaging your attention.
Mrs. Sarojini Naidu
c/o V. J. Patel