Forced re­movals still sting the com­mu­nity

The Sunday Independent - - BOOKS -

Donges, ar­gued that Na­tional Party pol­icy was de­signed to “elim­i­nate fric­tion be­tween the races”.

And JJ Marais, the chair­per­son of the Group Ar­eas Board, said: “Truly, for the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple the ad­van­tage would be that they will be pro­vided with bet­ter hous­ing and will live un­der much bet­ter hy­gienic cir­cum­stances.”

When the an­nounce­ment was made that Si­mon’s Town was to be a white group area, the lo­cal com­mit­tee sprang into ac­tion with even greater ur­gency – and for a short time it car­ried the hopes of many of the coloured res­i­dents of the town.

Led by a lo­cal Black Sash of­fi­cial, Bar­bara Wil­lis, it di­rectly ap­proached the of­fice of the Min­is­ter of Plan­ning, Carel de Wet. But there was to be no reprieve. Look­ing back to that time, Ron­ald “Cocky” Roberts said: “I didn’t ex­pect any other out­come.”

Roberts said: “Of­fi­cials of the Group Ar­eas Board (GAB), in their yel­low GG cars, started pay­ing vis­its to the homes of res­i­dents, want­ing them to fill in pa­pers and agree to move. For a long time ten­ants tried to dodge them, but it was fu­tile.

“The GAB quickly changed tack. Re­al­is­ing there was a dire hous­ing short­age for coloured peo­ple, es­pe­cially newly-mar­ried cou­ples, in Si­mon’s Town, they turned their at­ten­tion to the younger peo­ple.

“They started of­fer­ing them their own homes. Once they had made this break­through, more and more peo­ple took up the of­fer of a home in Ocean View,” he said.

“Sud­denly, peo­ple started ap­proach­ing mem­bers of the GAB ask­ing for forms, or want­ing to know why they hadn’t re­ceived this doc­u­men­ta­tion.”

Roberts said that by the end of the 1960s, the GAB be­gan us­ing the news that Mitchells Plain was go­ing to be built to per­suade the re­main­ing res­i­dents to move to Ocean View.

“They warned the peo­ple that once the houses were all al­lo­cated in Ocean View, peo­ple would have to move to Mitchells Plain, which was much fur­ther from their places of work in Si­mon’s Town or Fish Hoek,” he said.

“The trucks.” Ga­cieya Esau re­mem­bered the big trucks that trans­ported fam­i­lies and their Pic­ture: Henk Kruger/Cape Ar­gus be­long­ings to Slangkop.

“We were among the first fam­i­lies to move,” she said.

“It wasn’t called Ocean View then – and when we ar­rived there, we saw only bush.

“The fam­i­lies were heart-sore. All the friend­ships that had built up over the years were gone. In Si­mon’s Town, ev­ery mother was ev­ery­one’s mother – and now we had to mix with peo­ple we didn’t know,” Esau said.

“I only learnt what apartheid was all about after we were moved to Ocean View. We didn’t have any prob­lems with white peo­ple in Si­mon’s Town,” she said.

Esau said there were no schools when they moved into the town­ship, so they still had to travel to Si­mon’s Town.

“It was ex­pen­sive. We couldn’t af­ford it. After a year, I was sent to a farm school at nearby Imhoff ’s Gift farm.” She said the fall of apartheid and the op­por­tu­nity to claim resti­tu­tion did lit­tle to heal the hurt of many fam­i­lies. We were among the last peo­ple to be com­pen­sated, but by then it no longer mat­tered. They had killed the spirit in us,” she said

“My mother’s wish was to be buried in Si­mon’s Town. She had that wish 20 years ago.”

Esau said she even­tu­ally moved from Ocean View to Pel­i­can Heights. “I still rent out my house,” she said.

“I made the de­ci­sion to move for the sake of my chil­dren. Tik has taken over Ocean View.”

There were other poignant farewells too…

Tina Koff ’s grand­par­ents, who were a mixed-race cou­ple were al­lowed to stay in St Ge­orge’s Street, the main road of Si­mon’s Town, while her fam­ily had to move to the new town­ship.

To rub salt into the wounds of her grand­par­ents, they were warned that mem­bers of their coloured fam­ily were not to be al­lowed to sleep over at their house.

In the 1980s, the Sur­plus Peo­ples Pro­ject cal­cu­lated that re­movals un­der the Group Ar­eas Act con­sti­tuted the sec­ond largest sin­gle cat­e­gory of re­movals, the largest be­ing farm evic­tions. Ac­cord­ing to the SPP, by the end of 1983, 2 331 white fam­i­lies, 82 859 coloured fam­i­lies and 39 892 In­dian fam­i­lies had been up­rooted in terms of this leg­is­la­tion.

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