Forced removals still sting the community
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.