Forced Removals

From the inception of Stanford, quite a number of Coloured people bought and owned land in the village. There was no segregation and according to white and coloured it was a harmonious coexistence.

The families living in Bos Street (presently Caledon Street), Long- and Shortmarket Streets as well as in Klippie Street (presently de Bruyn Street) and also in Adderley Street and other Vleiland areas were mainly garden crop cultivators who also kept livestock. Their properties were fully owned without any encumbrance on the title deeds.

On the hill north-west of Stanford, along the river bank, in the area known as “Die Kop” (also “Belgium Kopje”,  “die Lokasie” or “Tettekop”), eighteen vacant lots were made available to Coloured municipal tenants who occupied the land since the 1920s. They had to “erect their own superstructures by the provision of self labour and self supplied material”.

“After the ascension to power of the Apartheid Nationalist Party Government in 1948 with its white supremacist ideology, the Stanford Area was ravaged by two distinct waves of land dispossession of its coloured inhabitants viz: ‘Die Kop’ Community evictions in 1957 where the administrative fiat was applied and ‘Die Dorp’ forced removals dating from 1972–1978. The Group Areas Act 1966, proclamation 306 (a) of 1968. In both instances claimants were moved to the low cost coloured housing scheme.” (Document of the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, 1994)

In 1957 the people were evicted after being given a three day verbal notice by the Town Clerk, informing them they had to move due to their “overcrowded… unhygienic living conditions”. They only later heard that the area had been proclaimed “an exclusive White residential area” by the Municipality and it had thus become illegal for Coloureds to live there.

The community was devastated. The older people were heartbroken and humiliated by the racist and hostile manner in which they were ordered out. No objection held any water, and in the end they had to move. It was a sad exodus. The municipality brought one truck to “assist” them in moving. Most of the families however used anything from donkey-carts to wheelbarrows to move their belongings and what they could salvage of their houses, to the new economic Coloured housing scheme. Prior to the forced eviction, they had been aware that the “scheme” was being built, but never in their wildest dreams thought it was intended for them! They were barely out of sight or the municipal bulldozers moved in and levelled their houses with the ground.

From 1972 to1974 thirty families, 14 who owned their houses and 16 long-term tenants, were forced to move from the land and houses in which they had lived for generations. Friends and families were torn apart, people’s lives were shattered. Overnight friends became enemies and for some it would take a long time to heal and forgive. Before these removals people of all races and colour respected one another and lived together harmoniously, now there was distrust, anger and sometimes even flagrant resentment. Simple things which were enjoyed and shared by the whole community, like the fruit on the trees which could be freely eaten of, became criminal acts of stealing. Friendship and love across colour became acts of indecency, prosecutable by law. In short, just about everything changed.

According to Mr Don de la Harpe, then project officer of the above-mentioned Land Restitution commission, the people of Stanford were not at all eager to talk about their experience. They had put the past behind them and moved on with life, built new houses, studied and proved themselves worthy human beings, worked through their pain and anger, maintaining a steadfast belief in a Higher Power and forgiving their fellow men. The Government tried to compensate them for their losses, but money can never replace the loss of human dignity and friendship. Talking to these men and women one stands amazed at their courage, strength and humbleness. Now the past is remembered with humour and much laughter.

Stanford would never be the same. Bos Street, also known as Piet Street, because of all the Piets living in it – there were Piet Maree the policeman, Piet Barends, Piet Skoenmakertjie (the shoemaker), Pietie Appel, Piet Dempers, Piet Serf, Piet du Toit, Piet Bek, Piet Titus and his son Piet – would become Caledon Street. Klippie Street is now known as de Bruyn Street. Where Dolfietsrivier, Olifantsdrif, Sakkiesdal, Pauliskraal, Tettekop, Perdegaatjie, Jan Brêns, Kattebaai, Vleitjies, Oulapkampie and Agterkaatjie were, only the older people know. And who were Pietie Tand, Han Willebul, Dirk Vaalbal, Jan Piepie, Hendrik Poppie, Thys Voete, Thys Paddatjie and Thys Ottertjie?

Next chapter: Street Scenes & Building Styles

Copyright Notice

© Village Life/Annalize Mouton and Portrait of a Village, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (text & photographs) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to  Village Life/Annalize Mouton and Portrait of a Village with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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