On August 16, 1908, Mohandas Gandhi led 3 000 supporters – among them Muslims, Hindus and Christians – to Hamidia Mosque, in Fordsburg, where they burned their ‘pass’ documents. These were the identity documents that all people classified ‘non-white’ by the government of the day were forced to carry in order to travel across the city, or face being imprisoned. The bonfire was lit in a cauldron and this event was the first recorded burning of pass documents in South Africa, an action that would later be emulated by the anti-apartheid resistance movement. It was also the beginning of Satyagraha, the passive resistance campaign Gandhi formulated.
In 2007 artist Usha Seejarim, commissioned by the Sunday Times Heritage Project, marked the spot with a sculpture of a potjie (a three-legged cast-iron pot) beneath which is placed a wheel, that when spun produces an image of a pass document burning. (Jennings St, next to Hamidia Mosque).