PRETORIA-- South Africa and India are commemorating this week the 125th anniversary of the eviction of Mahatma Gandhi from the first class compartment of a train and thrown off the train at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Gandhi arrived in South Africa as a young lawyer in 1893 and shortly after his arrival, he booked a first class ticket on the train to Pretoria, where he was to undertake business on behalf of the legal firm where he was employed.

On a cold 7 June 1893, he was forcibly removed by the rail authorities in Pietermaritzburg from the first class compartment and thrown off the train following a complaint from one of the passengers. He subsequently spent the night in the station's waiting room.

Commemoration events, which will be attended by Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, have been planned. These include a visit to Durban were Swaraj will be joined by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province, Willies Mchunu, and the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Luwellyn Landers.

On Wednesday, Swaraj visited the Phoenix Settlement near Durban, which served as Gandhi's home during his stay in South Africa. The commemoration of the train incident in Pietermaritzburg allows the two countries to look back and re-affirm the need to eradicate racism, the scourge of which continues in our societies 125 years later, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said on Wednesday.

This event initiated Ghandi's contemplations of racial discrimination and represented the beginning of his philosophy of Satyagraha (truth-force) and Ahimsa (pressure for social and political reform through passive resistance).

This philosophy became one of the greatest political tools of the 20th Century, influencing the civil rights movement in the United States and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. President Nelson Mandela later acknowledged that the values of tolerance, mutual respect and unity for which Gandhi stood and acted had a profound impact on South Africa's own liberation movement and on his own thinking.