Land Dispossession jury please Consider the Verdict,
Dispossession: The Action of depriving someone on land, property, or other possessions.
Few South African elite, seem to understand the concept of dispossession, we talk about who was in South Africa first, as the rightful owners of the land. Conveniently divide the black groups into Koi, Khoisan, and other blacks, attributing the original occupancy to the Koi and Khoisan, and claim that other blacks came from the North.
We ignore the fact that the Dutch, arrived as the Dutch East Indies Company, a chartered Dutch Company, and that the Netherlands never officially attached South Africa, the English East Indies Company overpowered the Dutch East Indies Company, and took control of their possessions.
What did the Dutch, and what did the English annexe by 1835, and had they in nearly 200 years, achieve fair dispossession of the entire South Africa, and was this dispossession, in the name of every white that would settle in South Africa?
The Portuguese, Italians, Germans, French, Swiss, many of these communities, will be heard to support that the Koisan comment on who beat the white to their possession.
By 1900, in the ‘colonised Africa’ the old Free State and Transvaal, were ZAR Republics, officially in the hands of the Boer.
In the comment below, a quote from the Library of US Congress, by the time the white arrived in the Eastern Frontier, the Nguni densely occupied the Eastern Cape.
The Kaalvoet Comment reflects that none of the ‘control’ structures, by the various Country powers, has any relevance to where our black people were fairly dispossessed, our black people were dispossessed through the 1913 Native Land Act, they should have had the same rights as the white foreigners, the Portuguese, Italians, Germans, French, Swiss, and other groups, to purchase and possess land.
Land Dispossession took place through until the 1990s, and all whites benefitted from this Land Dispossession, if it were not for this land dispossession, as a result of the 1913 Native Land Act, today Rosebank and Sandton, would have been owned by black people, off the Alexandra residential development, and the Sandton and Rosebank areas, would be Alexandra Extensions 10 to 25.
Let us not say it happened 100 years ago, 200 years ago, 300 years ago, and there is nothing that can be done.
It happened 30 years ago, and there is something that should be done.
The British adopted contradictory policies in ruling their newly acquired Cape Colony in the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Having seized the Cape from the VOC in 1795, the British returned the colony to the Dutch government in 1803 when peace had been concluded with the French. In 1806, however, with the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, the British again took the Cape in order to protect the sea route to their Asian empire. Like the VOC before them, the British tried to keep the costs low and the settlement small. Local officials continued the policy of relying on imported slave labor rather than encouraging European immigration with the latter’s implication of permanent and expanding settlement. They also introduced racially discriminatory legislation to force Khoikhoi and other so-called “free” blacks to work for as little as possible. The Hottentot Code of 1809 required that all Khoikhoi and other free blacks carry passes stating where they lived and who their employers were. Persons without such passes could be forced into employment by white masters.
The British attempted to alleviate the land problems of Boers in the eastern Cape by sending imperial armies against the Xhosa of the Zuurveld (literally, “sour grassland,” the southernmost area of Bantu-speaking settlement, located between the Sundays River and the Great Fish River). They attacked the Xhosa from 1799 to 1803, from 1811 to 1812, and again from 1818 to 1819, when at last, through ruthless warfare, they succeeded in expelling the Africans into the area north of the Great Fish River. Thereafter, the British sought to create a fixed frontier by settling 5,000 British-assisted immigrants on smallholder farms created out of land seized from the Xhosa south of the Great Fish River and by clearing all lands between the Great Fish River and the Keiskama River of all forms of African settlement.
But other policies and developments worked against these measures. In 1807 Parliament in London ordered an end to British participation in the slave trade everywhere in the world. This decision threatened the basis of the Cape’s labor supply, for farmers in the eastern areas as well as in the west.
British missionaries, who were active in South Africa for the first time in the 1810s and who had a sympathetic audience in Britain, condemned the cruel labor practices often adopted by Trekboers against their slave and Khoikhoi workers and decried the discriminatory provisions of the Hottentot Code. Although British officials did not rescind the legislation, they did respond to this criticism by establishing a circuit court to monitor conditions in the western Cape. This court offended many Boer sensibilities by giving equal weight to the evidence of “servants” and “masters,” black and white alike. The British also raised a force of colonial police, including Khoikhoi regulars, to enforce the court’s authority. In 1815 a Dutch-speaking Afrikaner farmer who refused to answer a court summons for mistreating a Khoikhoi employee was shot dead while resisting arrest. Relatives and neighbors rose in what became known as the Slachter’s Nek Rebellion, but their resistance was soon crushed, and the British hanged five of the rebels.
British policies on the eastern frontier also engendered growing Boer hostility. The attempt to close the frontier in 1819-20 following the defeat of the Xhosa and the importation of British immigrants only exacerbated land shortages. British settlers found that they could not make a living from small farms, and they competed with the Dutch pastoralists for the limited arable land available, thereby intensifying Boer-British tensions.
The British government, acting largely at the behest of the missionaries and their supporters in Britain in the 1820s, abolished the Hottentot Code. Ordinance 50 of 1828 stated that no Khoikhoi or free black had to carry a pass or could be forced to enter a labor contract. Five years later, the British Parliament decreed that slavery would no longer be permitted in any part of the empire. After a four-year period of “apprenticeship,” all slaves would become free persons, able, because of Ordinance 50, to sell their labor for whatever the market would bear. Moreover, slaveowners were to receive no more than one-third of the value of their slaves in official compensation for the loss of this property. The Boers felt further threatened when, in 1834 and 1835, British forces, attempting to put a final stop to Boer-Xhosa frontier conflict, swept across the Keiskama River into Xhosa territory and annexed all the land up to the Keiskama River for white settlement. In 1836, however, the British government, partly in response to missionary criticism of the invasion, returned the newly annexed lands to the Xhosa and sought a peace treaty with their chiefs.
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Animal before human lets think human before animal, today the Save the Rhino campaigns, is supported by every person, let us give some of our Save the Rhino empathy, to the blacks, dispossessed on the land, and to other groups today, who are suffering from the crime in our country.
Consider the Verdict:
“Sirs, as we look at Sol Plaatje’s comments in his submission to the Crown, he comments on the conservation of wild animals, something so close to all our hearts, and as ardent supporter of our National Parks, I ask myself how we could have set aside 2,292,167 morgen for the Kruger National Park, and not care whether the black populations’ livestock starved, and in turn, whether we intended taking the conservation of the black development out of the spectrum of the ‘white world’?
“In 1913 the black population of 4,000,000 souls, were only allocated eight times the land that the Kruger National Park was allocated since 1926. Since then, we have extended the Nature Reserve areas. In order to maintain the balance in the Nature Reserves, we have needed to cull animals regularly.”
“Sirs, we have not extended the land available to our black population that in now ten times greater than one hundred years back.”
“Sirs, do we have a secret formula for maintaining the balance between the black population and their available land? Or, have we just relied on the tenacity and survival ability of our black population?”
“Was it natural that their cattle should be subjected to the starvation process, while the grassy tracts of their God-given territories are mainly untenanted and preserved as breeding grounds for venomous snakes and scorpions?”
“Sirs, the Commission forced them to give up their agrarian occupation, by Acts of Parliament, driven by the profitable industries of our country.”
“Today we will hear claims that the land was dispossessed through fair power invasion, and a little negotiation with Chief Shaka, and many of us believe that. Black and white. Yet peace can only be achieved if land dispossession through conflict allows for the conquered to participate fully in the ‘new world’, failing this, the conqueror will need to maintain control over the conquered, in such a manner that they are unable to rise.”
“This leaves us in great conflict, as we all quote historical dispossession, we ask this forum to give consideration to matters that are hidden by this conflict, over whether it was Jan van Riebeek, or another who stole the land. Let us assume that all the land was annexed, stolen, by the various governments, that did not have the majority support, till 1994. But now our land rests in the hands of a majority government. Those who dispossessed the control of the land from the majority, and how they did it, is no longer important.”
“What is important, is how those ‘non democratic’ governments, excluded certain groups from owning land, buying land, renting land, and participating in the white economy?”
“The fair dispossession is not a defence.”
“The economic segregation is the crime that we are presenting.”
TripAdvisor Review Taste of Africa Soweto and other, Cedric & Nettie de la Harpe, consider that our Soweto Tour, or rather visit, is #1, and through this, they have driven Radical Economic Transformation in the tourism sector since 2004.
As South Africa’s political buzzword is Radical Economic Transformation, we will drive our guests to review their experiences, allowing our guests to participate directly in the process.
Please review, even if your visit was ten years back.
Cedric & Nettie de la Harpe
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Alexandra Tour, the microcosm of South Africa, a must visit.
A LOOK AT ALEXANDRA TOWNSHIP TOUR
Alexandra Tour Rates:
Departing Melville with Taste of Africa, half-day visit, R 500 per person sharing.
Departing Sandton Central Business District using local shared taxi from Sandton, hosted by our guide:
4 hour visit, R 350 per person sharing, excluding the local transport, payable by the visitor.
SUNRISE WALK & other tours:
Alexandra Township Tour – ‘SUNRISE WALK’ R 500 pp (min 2pax)
When we experienced the walk through Alexandra from 05:30 to 08:30, (winter 06:30 to 09:30), we experienced the Alex that we found the most attractive. Could it just be that it is cool, even the winter months can be hot during the day, or just that the magic of Alex waking up and rising around you is magic, you decide.
In the interests of Radical Economic Transformation in the tourism industry, these tours are intended to cater for the Sandton visitor, where our guides can host your access, through the local taxi transport in and out of Alexandra Township.
Any Half-Day Trip ex-Melville will only take place for the 05:30, 08:30 and 13:30 time slot.
Alexandra Township Tour
If departing Sandton, our guide will meet you at your hotel, if central in Sandton, or, at the Gautrain Station at 05:30, hosting you while using the local taxi from Sandton, our preferred option.
Should you wish to self-drive into Alex, we will provide directions to our guide controller on 2nd Avenue Alexandra, where you can safely park your vehicle.
Your guide will walk the area indicated in the map below compliments of Google.
From 1st Avenue, the taxi link and business area, we move through the small market places, moving through the Zulu enclave, and high density shack accommodation, where one of our guides lived, chased out by his neighbours in March 1991.
Taste of Africa visits the Madala Men’s Hostel, the heart of the 1991 conflict in Alexandra, considered a no-go area by most people.
From the male hostel and Zulu enclave, we walk via the upmarket Phase 2 with manicured gardens, an Island in the middle of the Chaos, pass the Female Hostel, walk through the high-density squatter community, the ‘Favela’ on 6th,
We pass the Room where Nelson Mandela stayed in the 1940s on 7th Avenue, then depending on time, a look at a few of the lower Avenues, before we head back to the business district and board that taxi back to Sandton:
Should the visitor wish to get deeper down into Alexandra, a trip in one of the small ‘cockroach’ taxi, will allow us to move deeper into Alexandra, and experience the cockroach.
No where in South Africa will you experience the diversity that you will experience in the 1 square kilometre of the old DARK CITY, that is Alexandra Township:
Join us for an experience you will never forget.
If we wish to extend the morning visit, and stay for lunch, once again, Cedric’s favourite lunch venue is the Alexandra Men’s Hostel, please discuss this option with Cedric.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY:
Alexandra, originally established as a white Township in the 1890’s then, when unable to sell land, the developer converted the Township to a black Township in 1912, sold all the land as the 1913 Land Act approached.
During the 1950s Alexandra was famous for the 2 American type gangs that controlled the area.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Alexandra, like Sophiatown, Kliptown and other areas in South Africa, was ripped apart by the expropriation of all residential land, and the forceful removal of residents to Diepkloof in Soweto, and other areas.
It was the Apartheid Government’s intention to use the land for Hostel Type dwellings, to provide accommodation for the labour force, and by 1963 the male and female hostels were built.
In contrast to the forced removals in Sophiatown, because Alex was due to remain a black area, the Council started to collect rentals on all accommodation that was not vacated.
This resulted in difficulty to remove the land-owners who preferred to stay, and great conflict existed through till the 1970s when Rev Buti was able to change the Council’s minds and the development of Alex was again started.
During the early 1980s, through some link by a financial institutions, contractors, and Councillors, property was re-sold to those who could afford bond homes. You paid a deposit, and an appointed contractor built the homes through a link to the building society.
Then, in 1984 conflict in the Townships, the 1986 the rent and services boycott, aimed at all the accommodation owned by the Council impacted on those Land-owners who maintained the control over their properties. To-date, no rent is being paid, and conflict exists in many ‘land-owner groups’ who claim ownership, in the face of Government Ownership.
This was followed by the removal of the restrictions on ‘influx-control’ and Alex was one of the first areas where informal shack accommodation swelled, resulting in the over-populated conditions we find today, high-density accommodation that the sewerage system can’t handle.
During 1990, when black on black violence, allegedly driven by outside forces, spread throughout the country, Alex, the ‘Dark City’ maintained relative peace. Then in March 1991 the IFP / ANC violence erupted in the area around the Mens Hostel.
Many died, and all non-Zulus were chased out of the area, many of them leaving all their belongings and fleeing.
This section today is still occupied by the Zulu contingent that occupied this enclave.
This is a brief introduction to the dynamics that we need to be aware of, and dynamics that should attract South African’s to visit the microcosm of South Africa’s scattered problems.
Cedric de la Harpe;
The You Tube in this post gives you a look at Nettie and Cedric de la Harpe’s background to Responsible Travel, and how it has impacted on our Alexandra Township initiative:
While you are looking at Alexandra, maybe Soweto is your other option?
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In this narrative, I use artistic license, to allow you to receive the message directly from the Father of Soweto.
On May 15, 2005, we celebrated the birth date of Sofasonke, with the back-yard theatre production that follows, imagine you are sitting in a shebeen / backyard theatre, sitting among a group of locals, listening to the spirit of Mpanza talking to the patron, his followers, his audience:
Cedric de la Harpe.
Sofasonke – the Father of Soweto
Featuring the Spirit of Sofasonke:
“I arrived in Orlando East, from my posh back-yard accommodation, in Bertrams, early in 1934. Not too many people were accommodated in Orlando East at this stage, the council had built nearly three thousand houses, only walls to roof height, they would only completed them when they had some-one who was prepared to rent the house. People were afraid to come and live out here. It was far away from everything. This area was like a jungle, many gum trees, planted for the mines requirements.”
“When they started building on Mooki Street, they would only chop down a few rows of trees. This jungle remained right on the edge of those houses that were built. It was only when they started to clear more of the jungle that people felt comfortable to come and live here. Only when you agreed to rent a house, did they complete the house. Even in those days the whites would not complete the house if it was not occupied, they believed that the Blacks would steal everything. Across at Skomplaas though, there were thousands of people who may have sourced building material from here, they were desperate, having been forced off their farms from 1913.”
“The one important part of my brief teaching career, was that one of my students soon became my wife, Julia, so well loved by all in Soweto. Today, I can admit that Julia, much younger than me, was in-fact the power behind this man. She was a true leader of the community.”
“When I came to Orlando, there were three types of houses. The two-room semi-detached houses, they were the cheapest, 9/6d, the two-room house, 1/5/6d, and the three-roomed house, 1/10/6d. I could only afford the cheapest one, two-room semi at 9/6d, but it did have a large property, house 957 Orlando East.
“I learnt most of my law, as a clerk, to a firm of attorneys in Natal. I was a popular young man, and the woman, loved me, the woman began to notice me in primary school, but it was not until I was in college that I started to appreciate them. I played soccer for Shooting Stars, and my fans, mostly girls, used to call me the ‘Coy Coy man’, and shout ‘Coy Coy’ when ever I had the ball.”
“I started as a legal clerk in January 1908; this new job gave me prestige. I felt like a chief, a Zulu chief, fearing neither man nor God.”
“Soon I was getting confident in my knowledge of the law. It was corrupting me. And my growing commitments made me less and less able to live within my income.”
“I suppose I must go back to where my problems with the law all started, 1909, I hope I am not going to bore you today, I was going to concentrate on the history of Soweto, but when these children say they do not know about their Father’s life, early life in Soweto, we need to spend a little time talking about it. Forgive me.”
“In 1909, I had a girlfriend, Martha Bhengu, the most beautiful girl I have ever known. I was just twenty, and much in love. Then she jilted me, for an African cop, in the district. Was I mad? Yes me; James Sofasonke Mpanza, a five pound a month, legal clerk, and so I fondly thought, I should be above the police, how could she?”
“I could not take the snub, and went after her, and assaulted her, and forced her to love me all over again.”
“Yes today I will accept I was wrong. Martha worked for the ‘clerk of the court’, and reported me; in due course I was summoned to appear in court. On the day I appeared, I strutted into the dock without briefing council. The magistrate jailed me for a month without the option of a fine.”
“I was furious, straightway lodged an appeal, and the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to a one-pound fine. I was very satisfied with myself. Dangerously; satisfied with myself.”
“This probably caused me to start embezzling money from Stevens. I was found out, but Mr. Stevens was a reasonable man and he let me off, hushed the matter up, and let me stay. At this stage I had many women, I was swanky and proud, my morals were corroded and I continued.”
“You young man,” pointing to a young white visitor of 40 odd, “you look surprised; bet you never believed, that a young black man, could have lived a lavish life-style in 1909.”
“I had already left the firm, having pocketed some money and believing that I would get away with it, when my other frauds were discovered by Mrs. Stevens in 1913. Mrs. Stevens was not as kind as her dear old husband, she called the police, and I was duly charged.”
“I soon appeared before the then Native High Court, but because I was exempted under Law 28, 1865, which placed me under the Common Law of the then Colony of Natal, I successfully took exception to the jurisdiction of this court. My trial was transferred to the Supreme Court, and I got twelve months, with hard labour, thanks to me defending myself.”
“The next nine months changed my life. I met hardened criminals for the first time.”
“One of the problems you have, when you first go into jail, is that you realise that you have lost all you have, your job, your future, and your family. You meet these hardened criminals, I met an old friend of mine, Dick, from back home, as we say, ‘my home boy’, he was a hardened criminal. I was arrogant, had Dick’s support, and we together, with his intent, and my legal knowledge, we discussed and developed a master plan. It was sweetly simple, and utterly ghoulish. We would simply eliminate Indian shopkeepers, and take their money. With my small carefully gathered knowledge of the law, I improved on the plan, provided we destroyed all the evidence …. with fire, we could never be convicted. We openly plotted at length, with other more seasoned prisoners.”
“With World War 1 breaking out in 1914, we were given a three month remission. When I came out Dick was waiting outside for me. Over a few nips of brandy we discussed our plan, in all its gory details. We were about to murder our first store-keeper, Adam, a store-keeper in Georgedale.”
The patrons fall silent in around you in shebeen, no more talking. They all sense what is about to take place. Mpanza moves his crate away from the patrons, no longer wishing to share the details with them. He now starts to talk away from the visitors, in a very quite voice. Is he getting to the end of the story?
“On the appointed day, Dick and I, again indulge in the brandy, lots of it to give us courage. It was Friday, August 1, 11 days after my release. We struck in the evening.”
“Three days later the police raided our home, and arrested me on suspicion of murder and arson. My Mother’s shock; was great, and I never forgot the pain, that I put her through.”
“Most of the evidence against us was circumstantial. Some of it given by a passers-by, who had seen us in the neighbourhood. The most damaging evidence, was given by the former prison mates, that we were going to target Indian traders, and burn all the evidence, especially the fact that we had targeted one Indian Trader in particular. It was this evidence that influenced the verdict.”
“Guilty, sentenced to death, to be hung by the neck till you die.”
“I started to wait for the hangman to do his job.’
Sofasonke goes to the toilet, leaving us all in silence. I notice him buying a nip of bandy in the far corner, he has a few sips from the bottle, and returns after ten minutes.
He breaks into a broad smile, the drama around his arrest and sentence forgotten, he takes us back to his days in Soweto.
“During 1932 to 1934, three thousand five hundred houses were built in Orlando East .
“In 1935, there were fifteen thousand black people living in Orlando East”
“During 1935, the ‘system’ established an ‘Urban Bantu Advisory Council’, initially consisting of four elected Councillors; the name of this Council, over the years varied, but performed the same functions. I formed the ‘Sofasonke Party’, for you whites, ‘Sofasonke’ translated is ‘We will all die together’. This party was officially registered in 1943.”
The group of shebeen patrons start chanting ‘Sofasonke, Sofasonke’,
Mpanza indicates that they should quieten down so that he may continue, it only took one slight wave of the hand and order was restored.
“My followers found great strength in this name, and I had no problem with getting the majority of the votes, even though our party only contested one of the seats.”
“The fact that I obtained the majority vote; permitted me to act as the ‘Mayor’, the leader of the Advisory Board.”
“The people, started calling me ‘Sofasonke’, after my party, few people even today, know that my dear mother gave me that name at birth. She must have known, that I would be a leader, and that I would need a name that inspired a following.”
“I neglected to put any other party members up for election to the Advisory Board, and remained a single representative of my party.”
“The Sofasonke Party concentrated on addressing the civic interests of its members, and community. Housing, service delivery, employment, schooling, sport, crime”.
“I was an important link between my community, and the Council. I love sport; I love music, and the arts. I ensure that these aspects were given attention in the schools.”
“You youngsters; will have met a number of old residents who tell you that ‘Sofasonke’ arranged their family house for them.”
“If you wanted a house, you go to the Sofasonke house no, 957, where I had an office, you tell me who you are, and that you need a house. When I have finished the paper work, I will get onto my horse and go see the township manager.”
“Then one day, I will come to fetch your father and mother, and take you to the house. I will be on my horse, riding slowly while the family followed. When we all reach the house, I will take the key, unlock the door, and present the family with their house.”
Sofasonke proudly goes through the motions of getting off his horse, walking up to the door, fitting the key, turning the key, opening the door and standing back to allow the family to enter.
“This is your house; you must never leave this house, because one-day, the Council will have to give you this house. I always stressed this important advice to my followers.”
“This advise that I gave all my followers, is the reason why I remained in house 957 Phiela Street, Orlando East, even after many moved to the new Orlando West in 1946.
“With the advent of the Second World War, 1939 for the South Africans, due to the conflict that the British had with the Germans in Africa, industry started to develop at a rapid pace. Recruitment agencies; travelled the length and breath of Southern Africa, and the local British Protectorates, and recruited black people of various genders, regions and ethnic groups, into Johannesburg. The number of houses in Orlando East; through the building of additional houses in Orlando East, prior to the war, had increased to 5800. Although the Council records only show fifty thousand people, in Orlando East in the 1940s, our party knew that it had increased to one hundred thousand by 1943.”
“Imagine what it was like in 1943, one hundred thousand people from all areas of Southern Africa, living on five thousand properties sharing five thousand bucket toilets, and limited water facilities?”
“In the 1940s, I was fighting a lone battle, to stop the City Council from making the backyard dwellings illegal, and to build more homes. The only place we had to live, was here, but they did not want the proliferation of shacks. We were a Township and the official accommodation for the Johannesburg Council, owned by the Council, this was the only legal place for all of us to stay.”
“In 1943, the Sofasonke party had decided it was time to act, and that we should attach municipal land, and build our shacks. In the September of 1943 we started to build hessian shacks on the community hall property, we still waited patiently for another six months, and eventually, on the 20th March 1944, we moved.
Having declared myself their ‘Moses’, mounted on my horse ‘Brown Sugar’, I shouted, ‘I am leading you to the land of Canaan, the Promised Land’ and the four thousand families, that had slept in and outside my yard the previous nights, from my house to the communal hall, followed as we crossed the river onto vacant municipal land, and established the ‘Sofasonke Independent State’.”
“I collected 1/6d per month, from each family for the rental of the property and the Hessian sacking that I provided. In addition to this, I levied a tax on the coal, and bread delivered into my independent State; I issued trading licences in my state, an aspect that was much appreciated by my followers, due to the strict control that existed in the official township.”
“I also provided my own police force, civil and criminal courts, where I appeared as the Chief Prosecutor, Judge, Juror, and Executor. I maintained this control, till I was no longer physically able to punish the offenders. Those people that I punished will remember me, maybe not very fondly, but hopefully they will give me credit for what I did for our community.”
“I collected the money, and banked it in the name of the ‘Sofasonke Townships’.”
“Soon after we established this independent state, I was called by the manager of the Non-European Affairs Department to discuss the ‘Masekeng’, sacking-shack-development, and my committee and supporters followed on foot, by car, and all sorts of transport. When the Council faced this group, and saw their mood, they compromised, and authorised me to continue managing the ‘Masekeng’ shack development.”
“This victory was only temporary, and Orlando’s then superintendent, Colonel Armitage, arrived some eleven months later, with his police, and marched on the shacks, it was a very cold morning, armed with soup and bread, to encourage my followers to return to Orlando East.”
“I was not present, away on business at 80 Albert Street, but my wife Julia soon reacted. Julia and her good friend and associate, Albertina Sisulu, this was a year before she married Walter, went to confront the Colonel. Few of you people realise that this was probably the start of the woman’s display of power in our struggle. These were both very powerful woman. They walked up to the Colonel, surrounded by the local police, smug looks on their faces. Julia and Albertina, shouted at the Colonel that they did not want his food, they wanted houses.”
“My followers then describe, how the two women, pushed and kicked the pots of soup over, trampled the bread, in defiance. The followers went wild, for the first time the people of Orlando stood up to the system. The Police attacked, the people retaliated, rocks were thrown, chaos broke loose, two people died, one a coal merchant, Khoza, died in the clash.”
“A large number of people were arrested, some fifteen hundred, I had been in town that morning, and arrived home to find my wife Julia, who had recently had our baby, and my brother had been arrested. On arriving home and hearing the news, I knelt down and prayed; while I was praying, I was arrested, and we were all charged for trespassing, public violence and incitement. My baby caught pneumonia that first night in the cells, and died. It took two months, and cost us seven hundred pounds, before we were acquitted.”
“Following this victory, my supporters grew boisterous, demanding action. The system responded, by serving me with a deportation order to leave for Ixopo, in Natal, within three days. My lawyers believed that the Council had the better of me this time, but I never give up. I studied the case records and found a case that proved that a ‘Native’ exempted under Law 28, of the Colony of Natal, was not a ‘Native’ at law. I believed that it would apply to me, and my lawyers responded with great enthusiasm. From the Magistrates court, through the Supreme Court, and then the Appellate Division, the case dragged on for a year.”
“During this period, the Sofasonke supporters held me in some sort of reverence, flooding me with presents, and money.”
“The clash with the police, the defiant kicking over of the soup, and trampling of the bread, however had the desired effect, the feelings of the people, the utterly primitive conditions, under which the people lived, the unsanitary conditions, the disease and squalor in the camp, could not escape the official eye, or nostril, any longer.”
“Yes; it needed the system to get close to us, to realise just what conditions we were like that we were staying in. Just how difficult our lives were. From their offices in Johannesburg, these problems were miles away.”
“This is what I wanted, the authorities had to sit up and take notice. In 1945 the authorities built ‘shanty town’, consisting of four shelters, one thousand rooms per shelter, four thousand rooms, built out of cinder blocks, loosely packed and covered with corrugated roofing. The production of the cinder blocks took place at the Orlando East power-station, before it was ever commissioned, and this also provided some employment, for our members, making the bricks and building the shelters.”
“I considered this development a major achievement; as much my followers may consider Orlando East, the ‘Cradle of the Township Development’, I personally believed that this victory, and the building of the ‘Shanty Town’, marked the birth of what would come.”
“I eventually succeeded in overturning my deportation order a year later in 1946, at a cost of one thousand four hundred pounds. The day before I received the news, I had already been forced on a train, headed for Ixopo, Natal. The news of our victory, spread throughout the township and shack areas, and on my way home the next day, I was met by the entire community, celebrating for me. My wife Julia wept for joy, four animals were slaughtered, and the women cooked all day. There were celebrations, feasting, drinking and dancing, in the Streets of Orlando; such celebration will not be seen for many years to come.
The Sofasonke followers in the shebeen stand and start dancing, while they sing Sofasonke Party songs. Before long the entire shebeen has joined in.
Sofasonke sits down and a small wave brings order to the shebeen again.
“After my release from jail, I was involved with a woman who I did not marry, because she did not accept my religious principles. I had four sons with her, the first one, I named Savuosonke, ‘we will all be resurrected’.”
“In 1939 I married my wife Julia, and we had four daughters.”
“In 1946, the City Council decided to start building Orlando West, yes, on my piece of land, my independent state, the state that I owned in 1944.”
“The day will come when I will submit a land-claim for compensation.”
“When they first started making houses in Orlando West available, the City Council, introduced the fact that you needed to prove that you were a ‘shack dweller’, before you could qualify for a Council house.”
“The stipulation that they needed to prove that they were shack dwellers, to qualify for a house, stimulated me and my followers, to start to erect more shacks, we decided that we would force the Council to provide houses for the shack dwellers. Many, many, shack dwellers.”
“In 1946, Orlando West is built; the houses were slightly bigger than our Orlando East homes. A little bigger; and more expensive too.”
“Typical of the Colonial influence in this country, believe me this stupid colonial influence will always exist in this country, the Council stipulated that you needed to prove that you were a shack dweller, before you qualified for a house. You needed to prove that you were a shack dweller before you qualified to rent a house, the most expensive houses in Orlando, from the Council. Stupid; yes, very stupid, stupid whites, very Colonial whites.”
“Fortunately they had this Advisory Board that I headed, and we were able to find a solution to the problem. We arranged for those residents of Orlando East, who had stable employment, to take up residency in Orlando West, and those shack dwellers, who qualified for houses, were allocated the cheaper houses in Orlando East.”
Mpanza takes another toilet and brandy nip break, and then, collects a crate and moves into the far corner, away from all the shebeen patrons, talking with less authority, almost quiet, causing the patrons to move closer.
“I had overcome my conscience, I did not feel guilty, I suppressed my guilt, under the belief that I was legally not guilty. My defence was that they only had circumstantial evidence, I had not been seen at the crime scene,” Mpanza opens the scene, and the gathering feels the impact, of listening to a person, talking from the death-cell.
“Following an appeal, my appeal, appeal after appeal, till the ‘Queens Court’, granted the reprieves, Dick was the first to be reprieved, and then my sentence, was commuted to life.”
Mpanza walks as if trapped in a small cell, deep in thought, his eyes show fear, anger.
“When I was given the news of my reprieve, I went mad, shouting that I wished to be hung, right then and there.” Mpanza, jumps around the shebeen, shouting, shaking, crazy.
Looking directly at the old Mother, for the first time for some time, he expresses his feelings;
“For the first time in my life I was afraid, afraid of the torture, the torture through eternal imprisonment. I never believed that I would be locked up. I was afraid. I wished to escape from this permanent hole. I wished to escape, through death.” Mpanza’s voice is raised, the shebeen audience feel with Mpanza, in his death cell, his now permanent cell.
Mpanza sits down on another seat, the gathering is quiet, Mpanza is on his own, once again in ‘solitary confinement’.
“During the next four years, I was moved from prison to prison. Durban Central, Point Jail, where I nearly killed a warder, who wished to discipline me for smoking; my first cigarette for a year, then Toitspan Prison, Kimberley, assaulted another supervisor, De Beers Prison, and then the Cinderella Prison, Boksburg, where I had my vision.”
Mpanza moves to the edge of the stage, and lies down on what resembles a prison blanket, turns to face the audience, and quietly continues, in the husk voice, of an ill man, a man with a sore throat.
“One night I had an attack of flu, as I lay in my cell, I saw a vision on the wall.”
Mpanza stares and points towards the wall / side entrance to the stage. He remains quite for awhile, staring, and the audience start focussing on where he is pointing. Suddenly a person dressed like a priest, ghostly white chalked face appears.
Mpanza continues quietly, almost in fear, “It was Chaplin Baker; he told me I should be re-baptised in remorse, and cleanse myself of my sins. The very next day, I started feeling better, I started reading my bible every day, all day, praying, begging God for forgiveness of my sins.”
Mpanza now stands proud; he is now the preacher that he had become in a very short period.
“I began preaching to the other prisoners, encouraging them to repent. They responded; and in their cells they took turns to pray for thirty minutes, every night. They started from the lights out bell, and then every thirty minutes, when the warders called ‘all is well’, they woke the next prisoner, and he would continue, praying, through the night, till sunrise.”
One by one the cell mates on the stage; take turns to chant quietly in pray, as Mpanza relates his experiences.
“It was three years after my vision, that Chaplin Baker baptised me, at this time I became convinced, that infant baptism, was against the scriptures. During my prison period, I wrote a book on my religious beliefs.”
Long silent moments as Mpanza quietly reflects on his past
“My faith was strong now; I committed never to tempt God again. I started baptising many of the prisoners that I had converted, using Baker’s bath.”
“This could not last, and very soon a priest complained, and I was moved to Pretoria Central.”
“During the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1925, prison sentences were reduced, and my sentence was reduced, I was due to be released on parole, in 1927.”
“My conscience was starting to torture me; no longer was I able to suppress it; it was as if someone alive was talking to me, reminding me continually: ‘James Sofasonke Mpanza, you are a murderer’.”
“I was afraid to leave jail, while my conscience was still torturing me. I fasted secretly, asking God, to send me a sign, that I was forgiven.”
“On the seventh day of fasting, the prison cook knocked on my cell window, and told me that a boiler attendant Sam, was insisting on seeing me.”
An big elderly man enters from the side dressed in a boiler suit.
“I left my cell to meet him, and found this big man, dressed in a boiler suit, crying, tears flowing, he seemed afraid. I had never seen this man, before.’
Mpanza turns towards the tearful man that has joined him on the stage.
The elderly Sam, tears flowing, held out a hand, visibly shaking, to Mpanza, they held hands for long silent moments, staring into each others eyes.
“Are you James Mpanza?” asks Sam.
Mpanza continued staring into Sam’s eyes, transfixed, by this strange man that he had never met before.
He tried to answer, but no words would come out of his mouth. After long silent moments, he manages a slight nod of his head, in answer.
“James Mpanza, God commands me; to tell you that all your sins have been forgiven.”
Mpanza is afraid, he continues to hold Sam’s hand, turns his face away from him, and looks up towards the sky in panic; the sky is clear, blue, and peaceful.
Mpanza looks back into Sam’s eyes, and then they both kneel down, to pray together.
A long minute passes, while both Mpanza and Sam pray to God, praising God and thanking God.
After an hour’s prayer, Mpanza says Amen loudly; and starts to rise; still holding Sam’s hand.
Mpanza feels that Sam is not responding to him rising and looks back at Sam.
Sam turns his face towards Mpanza, gazes into his eyes, then; he looks up into the sky, smiles, and slowly, quietly, collapses, and dies, falling slowly into a pile, at Mpanza’s feet.
Mpanza is quite, there is not a sound in the back-yard, as the audience and the players, come to terms with Mpanza’s experience.
Mpanza sits down; all the jail participants sit silently, with bowed heads, to afraid to interrupt the quietness. The dear mother stares ahead, not looking at anything, I watch her, not too sure just how she is receiving this message that Mpanza had received.
“I wept for the first time in my life.”
Having completed his presentation with these words, Mpanza is heard leaving the shebeen, the clip clop of the horses hooves, slowly disappearing.
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Soweto self-guided visit a Passport to Soweto, is part of Cedric & Nettie’s commitment to Radical Economic Transformation that they have been involved with since 2004.
This guide-book, allows the local and international visitor to safely visit Soweto, Orlando East and Orlando West, lunch at the Nancefield Hostel for the slightly more adventurist, for between R 120 and R 240 per person, for the full day.
The guide-book prepares you with local knowledge that you would require, allowing you to make the decisions on how you will spend the day, and the freedom, to move through the day, at your leisure.
The Passport to Soweto, is your opportunity to economically empower, the previously disadvantaged community, leaving a green footprint behind.
Visitors who have purchased the Passport to Soweto, by quoting your reference number in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, will receive advice and assistance from Cedric as you plan your day.
Soweto tour rather visit on Spring Day, a special event if you are going to be visiting Soweto on September 1, this is the first of special experience visits that Taste of Africa offered through the Passport to SowetoResponsible Tourism initiative.
Passport to Soweto, a guide that gives direction to using the Integrated Public Transport system, the Gautrain and Rea Vaya bus, and gives guidance and direction, including all the Heritage Value sites, bringing you the magic of Africa, while, everything you pay, goes directly to the community.
Spring Day is a magic fun day, one that should not be missed:
Your day will be filled with visits to Heritage Value Sites, details of the various sites are slowly filling the Passport to Soweto blog, allowing you the option to watch the blog grow, and ask any questions.
On Spring Day, Nettie and Cedric will be enjoying the day with the visitor.
For international visitors, you may either buy your Passport to Soweto through Createspace; or alternatively, Buy from our Store; in which case we will despatch a .pdf version to you, and your Passport to Soweto will be delivered to your Johannesburg accommodation, or await you in Soweto.
We guarantee that this will be the highlight of your visit to South Africa.
Cedric and Nettie de la Harpe
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Soweto tour from Sandton R 300 per person sharing, departing Gautrain Sandton.
Yes it is possible to do day trips to Soweto, from Sandton, for just R 300, from Melville, for just R 240.
With a “Passport to Soweto” to guide you, Johannesburg and Soweto’s new safe integrated transport system makes this budget price day trip possible.
Read the free pdf of Passport to Soweto link, buy your copy, and it will be waiting for you in Soweto.
Your cost of Gautrain Travel from Sandton to Park Station is approx R 30, your cost of travel from Park Station to Soweto, using the Rea Vaya, is approx R 15. From Sandton, return R 90, from Melville, return R 30.
See the Gautrain and Rea Vaya links for your introduction to cheap integrated travel in Johannesburg and Soweto.
The Gautrain is system is safe, you can buy a one way ticket, Sandton to Park Station, approx R 30, or, consider buying a Gold Card, and load money on the Card, allowing you to use the Gautrain Bus system, to access sites in Johannesburg.
When arriving from Sandton, as you leave the Turnstile, turn sharp right, and move towards the escalator and stairs, at the top of the escalator, before the exit, turn sharp right, and right again, and leave the station at the exit, towards the Gautrain Busses, head slightly left towards the traffic lights, at the traffic light, you enter the Rea Vaya bus station.
Rea Vaya allows the commuter to buy a one-way ticket, approx R 15, from the Rea Vaya bus stations, for those who wish to board a bus, off the ‘truck routes’, you would need to buy a Smart Card to travel (R25), these cards are often only bought at the Rissik Street / Park Station bus station.
If arriving from the Gautrain link, you may consider buying the card, loading one cash onto it, which will allow you to use the card for extra trips, on the sub-routes that operate in Soweto.
Board the T3 bus, travelling from the South to North, from the CBD, travelling from left to right, towards the entry to the Rea Vaya station, this route passes through the Melville area, if boarding in Park Station.
You are heading for the SAPS Rea Vaya bus station.
Taste of Africa, dedicated to open the hidden history of Soweto in the interest of the local community, will assist you to achieve this Real Price.
Guides will be made available if required, please enquire.
Cheap transport, to and from ORT Airport, Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg Cheap Transport Local Taxi,
In order to spend a number of days in Johannesburg, the visitor needs to be introduced to the Johannesburg Cheap Transport Local Taxi, and to attract the international visitor to this site, already popular with our local people, Taste of Africa introduces cheap, quick, easy access, to visiting the Apartheid Museum, see below.
As they were raised in Melville, both Nettie and Cedric de la Harpe will not be blamed for promoting Melville as the ideal base for your Johannesburg sojourn.
To assist the budget traveller, and those who would prefer to spend their available money, on more than just transport, we will run this blog to create a culture of using the cheap transport systems, allowing you to invest in our magic.
What is our motivation for this initiative, where we lose a little on transfer costs, we will make up on providing the visitor with the magic experience of walking the streets of Johannesburg, Soweto and Alexandra.
For the visitor who wishes to visit the Apartheid Museum via local taxi transport, you may use the Bree Street taxi rank, see below. Mid-way between West & Sauer Streets is and entrance with a stairway to the upper floor, use the steps to the upper floor, turn right at the top, follow to the end and turn left, and then mid-way on the left is an entrance to the upper-floor.
Enter, and to your right, approx 3rd lane, ask for the Baza-Baza taxi, and tell the driver and passengers you wish to be dropped at the Apartheid Museum. This is important, the taxi has options that could result in taxi not passing AM:
The Bree Street Rank reflects the vast changes of South African life. The ranks, when I was younger, 30 to 40 years ago, were the public parking garages, used mainly by the whites. Then, as the whites moved out of the Central Business District, and the parking garages stood empty for years, the taxi industry were housed in these buildings. The City of Johannesburg, as part of their beautifying the city project, has commissioned numerous interesting pieces of art that surround these ranks.
Both on the ground floor, and the upper-level, there are hawkers and small businesses providing for the commuters daily needs. Almost every commuter requires to use two, maybe three taxi rides to get to work in the morning. and often, the closest that the commuters get to shopping, is while they are changing from one taxi route to another.
When visiting Melville, or returning to Melville, to locate the Melville taxi, use the same entrance as described above, take the steps down to basement, turn left, keep left and take the next step to the lower level, and then turn right, crossing over to the first paved isle, which service at the terminal, ask for the Melville taxi.
When leaving Melville, use Main Road, south, or Kingsway, east, index finger in the air, will stop the taxi. 3 fingers indicates Bree Street, 5 fingers indicates Noord Street.
Just after you pass the Gas Works, on the corner of Enoch Sontongo Street,the taxi may stop, this is if the driver is aware that a passenger wishes to divert past the Oriental Plaza, Newtown to Bree rank. At this stage, passengers are redistributed as the same association shares the passengers among the two routes.
This is your opportunity to visit the Oriental Plaza en route to Newtown.
For those of you who would prefer a guide to experience the magic of these areas, Taste of Africa will oblige, we are just not into, selling the typical tourist site, that only requires transfer.
This section is aimed at permitting the more adventurous visitor to get through Johannesburg, and into Soweto while they appreciate the magic that exists, as economically as possible.
For those who have climbed Kilimanjaro, I always say, reaching the Peak was great, but I will always remember the getting there.
Use this section in combination with the traditional Street Maps and guide books.
Taste of Africa will assist with any enquiries via contact below, or email@example.com, provided you make enquiries seven days ahead of your visit. For those visitors who make use of a Taste of Africa guiding services through Johannesburg & Soweto, we will support you throughout your stay in Johannesburg, should you wish to venture through Johannesburg on your own.
‘Local shared taxi’ a negative in the suburban South African communities, but the daily mode of transport for 65% of the South African community.
You are able to board a local taxi on most corners in the Urban areas, however, at peak times it is often essential to stand in the queue at the taxi rank, as the taxi will be fill when they pass. We must warn you, many of the boarding stations very little respect for age and gender is given, if the taxi door opens, get in first, else you will be left on the street.
In general, the index finger pointed towards the sky will stop a taxi heading for the centre of the city, however, many ranks also have their individual signs when a route provides the service to more than one rank.
When in the taxi rank, ask the drivers/controllers to ensure that you are boarding the correct taxi, tell the driver and passengers where you wish to alight, if you are boarding on a street corner, ask other on the corner for the desired hand-sign for your destination.
When boarding a taxi always have your fare ready, do not use large notes early in the morning. The fares are passed from the rear of the taxi to the passenger sitting alongside the driver, or alternatively to the driver. Where possible you are expected to collect fares and take change during the process to relieve the driver of the load. Just a word of warning, ask, there are areas where payments take place at certain points en route, and sometimes, just before you alight.
Always ensure that the driver knows where you wish to be dropped, and do not hesitate to talk to your fellow passengers if you are not sure.
Our support information will prepare you for what you can expect when you arrive at the terminal, in order that you do not give the appearance of being lost on arrival.
Throughout the world you need to be aware, do not be careless with your camera, do not flash your wallet around, and decline an offer of any ‘tout’ who wishes to show you around.
Read up before you venture into the area, know what you are visiting and the times that they are open.
In these high-density pedestrian traffic areas that you will go through at the taxi terminals, the community are very aware of your level of anxiety. The more relaxed you are, the more you are respected.
Cedric de la Harpe +27 82 565 2520
BREE STREET RANK:
The Bree Street rank services the Soweto, Melville to Rosebank / Randburg areas, and through to Hillbrow.
Situated on Bree Street, central Johannesburg, between Sauer Street and West St / the Street that crosses the Nelson Mandela Bridge:
From Melville you will cross the Nelson Mandela Bridge. Then alight as the taxi take the left just before the rank.
When using the taxi to Bree, and you wish to get to Noord, please ask the driver, they could be including the Noord in their link.
Tel: +27 (0)11 836-5999 Website:www.sophiatownbarlounge.co.za Address: 1 Central Place, Jeppe Street Open: Monday to Wednesday 10h30 to 21h00, Thursday to Saturday 10h30 to 02h00 and Sunday 11h30 to 20h00
Constitution Hill, can be accessed from the Bree Street taxi rank, either using the taxi that goes to Yeoville, or a walk via Mandela Bridge and Braamfontein.
Coming in from Sandton, towards the Noord Street rank, the driver can drop you a block away, coming from Melville, you can alight, as you approach the Mandela Bridge, and walk up through Braamfontien, moving around the Civic centre.
Noord Street Taxi Rand:
The Noord Street Taxi Rank, consists on the enclosed MTN Rank, as seen below, but also covers the extended are as discussed below.
Noord Street is easily accessed when arriving by taxi from the Northern and Eastern suburbs and Alexandra. It is recognised by the high density taxi traffic and the high density pedestrian traffic.
Taxis travelling from the Melville Area, do have the option of taking you through to Noord Street, check with the driver, if not, there is a ‘local feed’ operating between Bree and Noord.
Taxis are restricted to leave from certain ranks, but when the arrive in central Johannesburg, there is very little restriction.
From the North and East, many taxi’s arrive in the Noord Street area on Klein Street, travelling from North to South.
From this rank you will access taxi’s to Pretoria, Sandton, Alexandra, and suburbs to the East.
On your left is Joubert Park, then the Johannesburg Art Gallery, your taxi will pass the JAG on the left, cross the rail line, and first a shopping centre on your left. You will need to alight between Noord Street and De Villiers Street. The Rank now is enclosed, as per picture above, the view is shown from Twist Street, and the shopping centre is on your right.
If wishing to move to the Bree Street Taxi Rank, move to the far side of the MTN Taxi Tank to Plain Street, diagonally opposite on the left, Corner Klein and Plein Street, under the big sign, Taxi Butchery, you board the taxi to Bree.
The Drill Hall can be visited while in the area, walk through between the MTN Taxi Rank and the shopping centre, and cross Twist Street, the large red building seen opposite.
Travellers wishing to access the ORT Airport Cheaply, can do so, using local taxi transport, from the MTN rank, move along De Villiers Street, in an Easterly Direction, keeping the Drill Hall, the large red brick building, on your left, continue two blocks or so, towards claim street, and you will find, by asking, a taxi that will take you to ORT Airport:
From ORT Airport to Johannesburg:
This is the more difficult option, mainly because you must not ask for assistance, there is no person on the airport who will believe that you can use a local taxi, after-all, you have enough money to used an expensive taxi.
Leave the arrivals terminal, onto the road way, turn right, and walk towards the oncoming vehicles that are arriving. As you leave the arrivals terminal, keep right, you will reach a fork that takes you down to a road way, at a lower level. Parked just under the vehicle ramp, you will find a shared taxi, if not, ask a local, the taxi will arrive soon.
During the morning, and late afternoon, your taxi will take you straight to the De Villiers Street rank, two blocks from the MTN rank, should they not be travelling direct, they will move via the Kempton Park taxi rank, where you may need to switch taxi.
A few years back, using this link, we could access Soweto, via the MTN rank for a total of R 45, today it my be R 60.
Wanderers Street, Long Distance Taxi Rank:
Johannesburg’s link to Long Distance Taxi’s depart from the seen on the Google Map, just north of Noord Street, on Wanderers Street. You must get there early in the morning if you wish to use this service.
On the 15th May 2005, we present a backyard theatre where James Mpanza relates early Soweto History educating both Taste of Africa Soweto Tour visitors, my family and friends, Sofasonke’s family and the community.
SunValley; Unfortunately Google Maps can’t give us more than this.
The Blue Building on the right is Musi High School, and to the left, the grey roof, now a shopping centre, was where the , ‘ematangeni’ concentration camp was originally located. The Rail siding can be seen on the ariel photo. The hillock can be seen on the ariel photo.
I use part of a backyard theatre production, presented on the 15th May 2005, both Sofasonke and my birthday, to give a little history into SunValley for my family, friends and Sowetans.