The university has awarded a retired maths professor with a gold medal in recognition of his contribution to the university and broader community.

Prof Kantilal Naik received the medal during the Faculty of Science’s graduation ceremony at the end of March.

Naik said: “I was totally surprised when our head of the school, Professor Momoniat, sent an email to our staff announcing that the university is going to award me a gold medal . I could not believe it! I had tears in my eyes.”

The Wits Council awards gold medals to a person who has made a noteworthy contribution to the university or made an exceptional impact on the community.

Naik has been involved with the Azaadville Hindu Seva Samaj for almost 32 years.

He was the acting chairperson and honorary secretary and is on the student governing body of Ahmed Timol Secondary School. He has also worked with the Yusuf Dadoo Primary School in Azaadville.

Naik  hopes to have further input in the academic and administrative areas of the School of Computational and Applied Mathematics as Honorary Adjunct Professor.

The Tyranny of Apartheid Regime is the title of Naik’s upcoming book which deals with his detention with the late Ahmed Timol at what was then John Vorster Square, by the security police in 1971.

The book describes the torture and tyranny he faced during apartheid. “My hands were totally immobilised from the wrists. I could not use my hands for almost four months,” said Naik.

“I had no hope at all that our motherland will ever become free from this tyranny of the nationalist government. But it happened,” Naik said.

Before joining  Wits as a senior tutor, initially in the statistics department, Naik was a science teacher and later moved to the Transvaal College of Education where he lectured physical science.

In 1986 Naik was moved to the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics and was later promoted to senior lecturer in the department. Naik retired in December 2003 and was appointed honorary adjunct professor of this department until 2015.