Johannesburg: A South African academic of Gujarati-origin has been awarded a gold medal by a university in Johannesburg for his service to the institution and for contribution to the development of his hometown of Azaadville. Prof Kantilal Naik received the award from Wits University, where he is the Honorary Adjunct Professor in the School of Computational and Applied Mathematics.
The university also hailed Naik's service to Azaadville community and surrounding communities to improve education among the youth. He was appointed to the post in 2010 and will hold it until the end of 2015. Naik started his career as a senior science teacher at Lenasia Indian High School in 1965 in the apartheid era. Two years later, he moved to Roodepoort Asiatic School where he served for almost a decade.
Then he became a lecturer at the then Transvaal College of Education, one of the only two institutions in the country for training South African Indians. In 1971, Naik was arrested for associating with anti-apartheid activists and was detained and tortured at John Vorster Square by the security police. His experiences while in detention are now part of a historic record maintained by the South African History Archive entitled 'Between Life and Death on detention at John Vorster Square'.
Naik is currently writing a book on his experiences in detention, focusing on the death in detention of a fellow teacher and anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol. Naik was instrumental in the name change of a school in his hometown from Azaadville Secondary School to Ahmed Timol Secondary School by the then President Nelson Mandela in 1998.