Cartwright Flats was a popular meeting place for members of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU). In 1925 A.W.G. Champion became Provincial Secretary of the ICU in Natal and established offices in the Natal Workers Club nearby at 11 Leopold Street. Large crowds of workers often gathered here for meetings on the open ground, which was then on the outskirts of Durban. Among leaders who addressed workers at this site was Johannes Nkosi, who was an activist for the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA). Originally from Johannesburg, Nkosi was appointed as an organiser for the ICU in February 1929. After the Durban beerhall riots of June 1929, circumstances became more favourable for the CPSA due to growing African militancy. Johannes Nkosi promoted the CPSA political programme that called for a “South African native republic” and the burning of passbooks. In meetings at Cartwright Flats he openly called upon Africans to fight for their freedom, and his fiery speeches drew large crowds that led to considerable growth in membership of both the ICU and CPSA. In late 1929 Nkosi announced a campaign to burn passbooks on 16 December, which resulted in a bloody clash between African workers and Durban city police. During the fighting at Cartwright Flats several protestors were seriously injured, including Johannes Nkosi. Following emergency brain surgery, he later died from injuries sustained to his head and abdomen, thus becoming the first member of the Communist Party in South Africa killed for his beliefs.