Settlements: Oral history of Nduli and Rooikamp


San hunter/gatherers and Khoikhoi herders inhabited the Ceres district prior to the arrival of Europeans.  The Khoi kept livestock which represented a source of wealth to them.  Rock painting sites in the Ceres area bear testimony to San occupancy.  Interestingly, the clay pot depicted in the base of the Western Cape coat of arms is modelled on a clay pot of Khoikhoi origin found in Ceres district.

From 1729 European settlers began to move into the Bokkeveld area.  The Dutch East India Company granted grazing licenses and settlers established cattle posts.  Soon the area where Ceres is now located became a stock farming frontier. The expansion of stock farming and agriculture in the Ceres district gradually led to the displacement of the San and Khoi people and the loss of their land, resources, identity, traditions and cultures.  Ravaged by conflict with the European settlers and the outbreak of diseases such as smallpox, the Khoi and San lost their independence and were forced to become labourers in order to survive.

As a way of expanding colonial agriculture, Ceres was established in 1848.  Because of its fertile land, the area was named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, Ceres.  After European settlement, the area blossomed into a colonial agricultural district, producing a mixture of fruit, wheat, vegetables and livestock.

As the town developed, more black people moved into the Cape colony in search of labour opportunities.  The Cape Colony introduced the Glen Grey Act (1894), which restricted and controlled the movement of blacks.  Later, the Union government introduced the Native Land Act (1913) and Native Urban Areas Act (1923) Act, which further restricted access to land and resources to blacks, also making them dependent on labour to sustain themselves.

Segregating the town

Initially Ceres together with the villages of Prince Alfred’s Hamlet, Wolseley and Op-die-Berg were grouped together under one municipality, which was established on the 3 November 1864, with Mr. J.H. Munnik as chairman. In May 1908 the taxpayers of Ceres petitioned the Governor for full status according to the Municipal Law of 1882. This was granted on 18 November 1908.

At the time Ceres received full municipal status, Khoi, San and Slave descendants lived on crown (government) land known as Zwartvlei and Rooikamp, which they claimed had been given to them in 1838 by Queen Victoria.  Coloured tenants in Zwartvlei had signed an agreement with the municipality in 1907 giving them the right to live on their erven or plots.  The agreement stated that they had to pay a yearly rental and could not be removed from their Zwartvlei plots without their consent.

As the town developed, one of the first tasks the municipality undertook was to develop it along racial lines.  The increasing demand for property in Zwartvlei (which was in the centre of town), then led to people being moved to Rooikamp.  The council argued that in order to safeguard the health of Coloured people, a separate area had to be developed for them.  Furthermore they argued that the Cape Colony government instructed them to reserve Zwartvlei for white residency.

The council volunteered to remove the coloured families from Zwartvlei at its own expense. The Mayor and Town Clerk drew up a new agreement for the coloured tenants of Zwartvlei to sign.  ‘Special treatment’ was to be given to the original tenants of Zwartvlei. They were promised plots of their choice in Rooikamp; ‘suitable’ houses built at the Council’s expense, compensation and lower rent payments. They were also promised that the plots would be of the same size as in Zwartvlei. Alema Felix, Sonna Goliath, and Abraham Willemse signed the 1919 agreement, but others refused.  The council set up a committee to deal with the issue of relocating people from Zwartvlei to Rooikamp and to start negotiating with the remaining tenants who did not sign the agreement in 1919. Leah Vergotinie, Antjie Sampie, Absalom Booise and Carolina Meiring, all signatories to the 1907 agreement refused to sign the 1919 agreement, but would eventually be forced to move to Rooikamp. Those who refused to relocate voluntarily were continually served with eviction notices. The other five tenants from Zwartvlei were monthly tenants and therefore the council argued that they had no obligation towards them in terms of compensation, a house, or a vacant ‘erf’.

The Cape Colony Government granted the whole of Zwartvlei to the Ceres Council on 5th October 1922.  The relocation from Zwartvlei to Rooikamp caused much unhappiness, as plots were reportedly either taken away from monthly tenants in Rooikamp or halved to make way for people from Zwartvlei. The shortage of plots in Rooikamp led to overcrowding and bitterness.  Many tenants from Zwartvlei felt that they were old and had lived most of their lives in Zwartvlei and having to move was physically and emotionally depressing.

By 1926, Zwartvlei had been declared as an area unfit for residency and the land was transferred from government to the municipality.   All slave and Khoi descendants, many of whose families had lived in the area since 1870, were relocated to Rooikamp.

Settlement of Black People in Ceres

Ceres Council minutes of 1919, indicated that blacks were ‘squatting’ at various sites around the village.  The presence of “kaffir huts” in the pine plantation in May 1919 was regarded as a fire hazard.  The Municipal workers occupying those huts were instructed to move to a site in Rooikamp.   They were given permission to erect rondavels on the site on the understanding that the rondavels were to become the property of the Council on termination of their employment. In August 1919 Council discussed the problem of “natives, squatting” on commonage in Mitchells Pass. This group of “natives” was in railway employ and council decided to remove them immediately onto railway property.

The “native problem” was becoming more evident as various groups of black people were regarded to be taking up residence illegally in and around Ceres. As the Council had made no provision for housing sites for blacks, black workers employed by the Council, railways, roads department and  farms began to squat on vacant land around town. Sometimes the council would provide road workers with tents as temporary residence until the completion of the road contract.

On the 21st June 1920 the Health Inspector had reported that a number of “natives” employed by Messrs Adams and Nason were “squatting” in the mountain near the public road. Council decided to have them moved to a spot “near the tunnel on the south side of the railway” where they would be permitted to “lodge temporarily”.  On the 2nd May 1921 a Council meeting took up the issue of “natives, squatting” on the commonage at the foot of the mountain. The Health Inspector stated that seven of these “natives” were in the council employ on the work of cleaning the river. The council decided that those “natives” should not be allowed to remain on the commonage once the cleaning of the river was completed.

Relocating to Sakkiesbaai

In 1934 the government passed the Slums Act which gave municipalities the power to demolish any area considered a slum. Families occupying an area near the toll house in April 1938 were regarded to be “illegal squatters” under this act. The Town Clerk ordered the council to remove them as they erected the shacks without permission.   In an attempt to control the movement of black people in Ceres the Council set up a temporary camp, Noodkamp, in 1940.  Council set down a condition that there should not be more than fifty families in the camp and they would have to pay a monthly levy of £1. In line with influx control policies, the health inspector numbered each hut in Sakkiesbaai and registered each tenant so as to ensure that the number of families did not exceed fifty.  Council introduced a curfew bell in Sakkiesbaai and stipulated that the blacks had to be indoors from 9pm to 6am in summer and 9pm to 7am in winter.

Mr. Bassie came to Ceres in 1943, working for the Divisional Council at Mitchell’s Pass. He lived in camps that were situated next to the brick-making quarry on the road towards Worcester. Those small camps were situated across the Toll house, only men there and those who had families had to look for accommodation for them to near by farms. Between 1940s and 50s men were gradually relocated to the Sakkiesbaai area. Mr. Bassie went to stay with his brother-in-law, John Gili, who also worked for Divisional Council.

Sakkiesbaai was sometimes also referred to as Sakkiesdorp and was also called Riverside by residents because it was close to the river.  Forty huts were erected in Sakkiesbaai and three additional huts were erected for black workers who assisted the town engineer.  In October 1946 a ‘native’ was fined £3 for erecting a hut without permission. According to information from several former residents there were also some brick houses in the area. It was also recorded in the minutes of the 14 October 1940 that permission was granted to the “natives to make bricks south of the sanitary camp”.

The Native Urban Areas Consolidation Act of 1945, “tightened influx controls” and was one of the many follow-up laws to the Native Urban Areas Act of 1923. It restricted the rights of Africans to live in urban areas and extended influx controls to all urban areas and to black women who had previously not been affected.  Blacks had to register with the labour bureau and were prohibited from moving to any area where it was unlikely they would find employment.  According to the Act blacks could not remain in an urban area for 72 hours without a permit, if found without a permit they were to be deported immediately.

Some residents of Ceres were unhappy about blacks living so close to the town.  White residents of Ceres voiced their concerns at a meeting between the Taxpayers Association and the Council, in 1946.  Residents complained that blacks married coloured women and a “new generation of bastards” was created.  The meeting concluded that Sakkiesbaai was meant as a temporary camp for contract workers working on Mitchells pass and that after the completion of the pass, there would be no need for a location for blacks.

By mid 20th century the number of black people in the area had increased. In 1946 there were only 195 blacks in Sakkiesbaai but by 1951 the figure had more than doubled.

Census: 1951       1957   

White    2013       2300
Coloured             2774       3100
Black      588         600
Malays 16           Unknown

In 1948 the National Party came into power and imposed the policy of apartheid, based on enforced racial separation.  Apartheid laws and policies were introduced, which determined where people lived, how they lived, who they could socialize with, who they could marry, and the kind of education they received and where they could work.  These laws would benefit white people and caused much pain, suffering and humiliation to blacks, Coloured and Indians.

In January 1955 Dr W. Eiselen, secretary for Native Affairs, indicated that the government would implement a number of measures for controlling the black population in the Western Cape.  The measures he identified included the removal of “foreign Africans”, freezing the number of African families and bringing in a limited number of single migrant workers to meet the most urgent needs of industries.  Migrant workers were to be gradually replaced by coloured workers.  The African population in the Western Cape was to be screened and classified into two groups – those who had “remained Bantu” and were to be moved back to the reserves over time and those who had entered into relationships with Coloured women and were to be given “Coloured citizenship” (reclassified) and would qualify for residential rights within the Coloured community. The government also introduced the Coloured Labour Preference Act in 1957.  In terms of this act any employer wishing to employ a black worker was required to obtain a “coloured labour clearance certificate” from the Department of Manpower, stating that no “suitable coloured” person is available for the position.

Noodkamp Emergency Camp

The Ceres Council decided to apply for permission to the Department of Native Affairs to declare Sakkiesbaai a location under the Native Urban Areas Act, so that they could have proper control over the black population.  Two Native Commissioners from the Department of Native Affairs visited Ceres in May 1951 to consider the Council’s request. The council appointed a new committee to submit a plan and a point to point description of the new suggested area for blacks, south of the town.  It was about twelve hectares in size. A committee was sent to Wellington to look at conditions there and to get some advice from that municipality about the proclamation of a temporary camp. They were advised that new legislation would require that all residents in the location be registered.

Sakkiesbaai was officially proclaimed as Noodkamp emergency camp in 1952.  A committee was appointed to look at the development of Noodkamp as a temporary location for blacks on twelve hectares land.  Towards the end of 1952, the council decided that Noodkamp would be demolished on 31 March 1953.

The Ceres Council called a public meeting on the 27th of October 1952 to decide on the future of black people in Ceres.  Ironically, no black residents were allowed at the meeting which was attended by 300 members of the public.   At the meeting Council reported that the Commissioner of Native Affairs had given permission for Noodkamp to be demolished.  However, members of the public pointed out that a number of companies, including the Deciduous Fruit Board, Cold Store and Central Packaging, required a considerable number of black workers on a seasonal basis.  The meeting supported the decision to demolish the emergency camp but requested the Council to build hostels to accommodate single workers.

The Mayor argued that the council did not have ground for a location and would have to expropriate land from a farmer. He expressed the opinion that it would be best that all the residents be given notice to leave the temporary camp. He also reminded the meeting that in terms of article 10 of law 25 of 1945, “no native may live in the municipal area without a permit for more than 72 hours”. Permit books had already been printed and were in use. They were in triplicate and were given to the black workers and a set also given to the employer. He asked the public to make sure that “if such native leaves his employ” the employer informs the superintendent.    The Department of Native Affairs and the Department of Health, requested the Town Clerk to expropriate land for a “native” location.  The Council, not in favour of this request, continued with a temporary camp for a number of years.  In 1958, however, 30.6 morgan of land was identified for a black location outside On the 26 of November 1965 according to government gazette number 1287 and government notice number 1870, Noodkamp was de-proclaimed as Ceres emergency camp under sub-section 5 of section 6 of the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act, Act No. 52 of 1951. Noodkamp was redeveloped as a coloured group area under its new name, White City. It was meant to house people who were removed from the buffer strip after the earthquake of 1969 of Ceres.


The establishment of Nduli

The township of Nduli was established against the background of the implementation of apartheid.  Nduli is a Xhosa word meaning “hill”.  As one enters the Nduli location using the Chris Hani off-ramp, the impact of apartheid planning for control of townships is evident. To ensure control and security, a police station was erected right at the entrance to the township.

Nduli is opposite the Warm Bokkeveld Prison which is a bit older than Nduli. Nduli can be accessed only from Ceres town and Touws River via the main road. Like most townships of the apartheid period, it could easily be cordoned off during times of unrest or during army and police operations. The exit is opposite the Correctional Centre, which made it easy for the police to arrest any township residents involved in acts of protest.

A circular (83/174) of 5 March 1948, from the Chief Commissioner for Native Affairs, indicated that the Railways had been instructed to  issue no train tickets to the Cape Western District (including on the De Aar – Mafikeng railway line) to any black person, except on written authorization by a Commissioner of Native Affairs. Black people were forced to carry a pass books or “Dompas” which monitored, restricted and controlled their movement into towns and cities. Up until the 1940s there had been few prosecutions for pass law violations.  However, after 1948 the government clamped down on black people living in the Western Cape and there was a sharp increase in pass law prosecutions.  In Cape Peninsula during 1978 11, 823 black men and 4, 525 black women were arrested for such offences .

The Group Areas Act of 1950 created separate areas where people of different race groups could live and own property.  In 1960s many areas in Cape Town, including Ceres, where large groups of Coloured people lived, were declared white group areas.  In spite of resistance to forced removals, many Coloured people were moved and their communities broken up.  At a public meeting of 3 December 1963, the mayor announced that Rooikamp would be demolished and re-planned.  Coloured people were then moved to White City and Bella Vista which had been declared “coloured group areas” under the Group Areas Act.

The re-planning of Rooikamp was interrupted by a major earthquake that struck Ceres and surrounding areas on 29 of September 1969. Most of the houses in Rooikamp were damaged and needed to be rebuilt. (To learn more see also the exhibition about earthquake in Ceres)

The buffer strips that divided the ‘white group area’ in Rooikamp from the ‘coloured group area’ still in evidence, No development took place on the land even after the disbandment of the Group Areas Act.  It still serves as a reminder of the impact that the legislation had on the community of Rooikamp.   The area where Sakkiesbaai was located was declared a coloured group area and black people were removed.  Sakkiesbaai gave way to the establishment of White City, a coloured township.

The residence across the level crossing is White City. It was meant to house people who were removed from the buffer strip after the earthquake of 1969.

The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 led to the establishment of independent “homelands” in which black people were given “full citizenship”.  This meant that they lost their status as citizens in South Africa and became aliens in their own country .    Chief Albert Luthuli described the homelands as “the home of diseases and miserable poverty, the place where we shall be swept into heaps in order to rot, the dumping ground of “undesirable elements”, delinquents, criminals created especially in towns and cities by the system.  And the place where old people and sick people are sent when the cities have taken what they had to give by way of strength, youth and labour”  .

In 1959 the Ceres Council revisited the development scheme and the issue of Noodkamp. In a meeting between the council and the Native Commissioner, Mr. Smuts, it was agreed that housing would be provided for black people with section 10 rights (those who had lived continuously in the Ceres area for not less than fifteen years and or had worked continuously for the same employer for not less than ten years, as set out in the Native Urban Areas Consolidation Act of 1945). They were to be housed with their families on the grounds where the compounds were to be erected.  The name Nduli was approved by the board for the new hostel scheme. Under apartheid planning, black townships were usually located away from urban centres. Nduli was located five kilometres away from the town.    In 1962 the Ceres Council began to remove residents from Sakkiesbaai to Nduli. The first structures in Nduli area were the 16 single-men’s hostels for migrant workers and 6 family blocks. Infrastructure in Nduli quickly developed and by 1975 there were 15 hostels, 24 houses, 2 halls, 1 school, 1 beer hall, 1 mortuary, 1 laundry and 1 private hostel, which totalled to 47 units.

The blocks above were meant for families. People had options determined by the amount of rent and the size of the house in the hostel. The rent was structured this way: each of the twelve two roomed houses cost 90c per week, each of the twelve four roomed houses cost R1, 73c per week and a bed in the hostel for a single men cost 50c per person per week.

In 1978 the Bheregwana informal settlement (just behind the school) was also redeveloped into a formal housing scheme called Zwelitsha. Behind Zwelitsha a new development of RDP houses, Zone 14, has been completed.

While still in Sakkiesbaai, the Methodist Church requested permission to make use of a stone building in the area. The council replied that it had already instructed that the building be demolished after a health inspector’s report.  Even after the removals some black families continued to attend church services and hold weddings in the AME Church.

During the development of the first houses in Nduli, the Council also received an application from the Methodist Church to be granted land in the new housing scheme. The Methodist Church was the first to be given land in 1962, because of the size of its congregation. The Dutch Reformed, Roman Catholic and Apostolic Churches, whose combined total membership was 150, made a joint appeal for land. Others followed later. Today, a number of different denominations have set up places of worship.

Valashiya, a former resident of Sakkiesbaai recalled the day of the removals: “…we moved to Nduli on the 21 July 1962. We were not given notices or alert about the removals. We saw trucks and the municipality told us that we are moving to the new area.”

Mr. Bassie also shared his recollections of the removals: “We heard from Ndabazabantu (the Department of Native Affairs) that we have to move from Emasakeni to go to a new community.  There was not even a warning or awareness of removal.  Because Nadabazabantu was a bully we were supposed to do what he said.  I think it was during the week we came from work and saw trucks standing in front of our houses.  But we didn’t pack all our things; stuff like cattle we left there.  That day was very painful. …Nduli was only six blocks of hostels; each block has three houses.  Those were for single men.  And those who had families used to stay in Zwelitsha which now is opposite the primary school.  At those hostels for families there were three blocks”.

Eviction notice

A former resident of Rooikamp, Mr D Mouton, recalled the forced removals from Rooikamp in May 1969. “Ek kan onthou ek was ‘n kleuter in die destydse sub b,vandag graad 2 en was daar ‘n middagskof sessie geskep vanwee te veel kinders en te min ruimte by skole.Die spesifieke oggend in 1969 as ek oos oudergewoonte op pad skool toe.Terwyl ek skool toe gestap het,wat nie ver van destydse huis was,was alles wel.  Egter die middag na sluiting teen ongeveer tussen 4uur en half vyf,het my tante in wie se klas ek was,my egter meegedeel dat ek saam met haar moet huis toe gaan.Ek was nie op daardie tydstip bewus van wat aangaan,maar toe ek by haar huis aankom het ek my ma en kinders (8) daar aangetref in ‘n kamer ingeprop, van my oom se huis…Vanuit my ma se vertelling het sy gese die balju het terwyl hulle besig was om die meubels uit te dra gevra wat hulle met die baba moet maak.My baba broer het op die bed geslaap.Sy het in haar woorde gese;”dra hom ook maar uit”.Die gebeure het hom afgespeel in gietende reen.

In my eie ervaring was dit ‘n tragedie deur dat dit diep letsels gelaat het want die een oomblik het jy ‘n huis gehad waar daar warmte was en waarna jy met groot trots en vrymoedigheid kon gaan om die volgende oomblik te ontdek vanwee die felheid van apartheid, jou menswaardigheid niks getel het in die oe van die verdrukkers”.

The homelands system resulted in the impoverishment of the ‘Bantustans’ and forced many people to become migrant labourers.  Many people from the former Transkei and Ciskei started to move to the Western Cape in search of employment, better healthcare and educational opportunities.  Soon the hostel accommodation and family units in Nduli were not enough to meet the housing demands.  The council turned down request for extra land and people started to set up their own structures on vacant land in Nduli.  By 1970, the township’s first informal settlement, known as Bheregwana, had developed.

The Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act passed in 1953 gave government the power to declare state of emergencies (1960-1989), detain people without trail, and penalise people who protested against apartheid laws. These penalties were very harsh and severe and led to death in detention resulting from gruesome act of torture.  Those who were tried were given death sentences, banished, or life sentences.

Growing resistance to apartheid within South Africa in the form of strikes, boycotts, demonstrations and other forms of resistance, together with armed struggle, economic sanctions, the sports and cultural boycott and international pressure all contributed to negotiations between the South African government and the African National Congress.  The negotiations culminated in the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, the unbanning of political parties and the lifting of restrictions on exiles, paving the way for a political transition to a democracy and the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first black president on 27 April 1994.

Treya Sifile, an activist in Nduli, recalls when we wanted to hold meetings it was not easy, but we had a plan of using the church name to disguise. I remember one day when we had a political meeting in this house, someone tipped the police that we are having a meeting but when they arrive we heard a car stopping in front of the door. We knew it was the police. I stood and sing a hymn, as we were all wearing Methodist Church uniform when they entered one of them was a black policeman. He told them that we were having a church service not a meeting then they left.”

Early schooling in Nduli

The earliest school provided for black people’s education in Ceres was the mission school run by the Ebenezer AME Church which was attended by children from Sakkiesbaai. In spite of government opposition and restrictions the school continued to operate and served the black and coloured communities.  Council minutes of 24th of March 1960 reflect that the number of school children from Noodkamp had increased to 43. The school moved to hostel S7 in Nduli after the removals from Sakkiesbaai.

Mr. Kaiser Mbiko, who was originally from Idutywa, had taught at the AME Church School before the forced removals. He lived in a house behind the church. During the forced removals  Mr  Mbiko moved to hostel S7, to be a headmaster of the school, and also occupied a small room in the block. All the classes shared a single room, with teachers teaching different standards at the same tuition period. Other teachers at the school included Jane Senoamali and Mrs. Nyangiwe.

According to Mr. Turu, Mr. Mbiko died in Clarkbury in the Eastern Cape. The school block now forms part of family residences. Mr. Gastaff Turu one of the senior residents of Nduli also stayed in Sakkiesbaai before forced relocation.

In spite of the difficult conditions in the hostel, school pupils managed to advance. After standard four learners who wanted to continue with their schooling had no choice but to relocate as there were no high schools for blacks in the area.  Jane Senoamali stayed at house number 107 in Riverside (Sakkiesbaai). During the forced removals, her family was allocated to MA1, a two bedroom house with kitchen and seating room in Nduli. She was one of Mr. Mbiko’s learners while at AME Church and at S7. Jane completed her JC (standard 9 of those days) at Bensenville College of Education in Herschel. While at Nduli during school holidays, she was asked to assist Mrs. Nyangiwe. Mrs. Nyangiwe was a principal at S7 and later at Nduli Intermediary School. Ms Senoamali taught until 1969, when her first child was born.

Mr. Nzimeni William Sifile was the second mayor of Nduli elected to office after the expiring of Ms Jane Senoamali’s term of office in 1992. In the photograph above Mr. Sifile is being inaugurated as chairperson of Nduli Municipal board. Also honoured by Nduli community, Sifile Avenue was named in his honour.

Communist Party leader Chris Hani

In April 1993 there were mass stay-aways and protest marches around the country following the assassination of SA Communist Party leader, Chris Hani.  Ceres was affected by the protests as a crowd of about 10 000 people blocked the road between Ceres and Hamlet.  The police retaliated, using teargas, rubber bullets and birdshot against the protesters.  Five people were injured in the incident.

The first official school structures in Nduli

The school in S7 catered for sub-A (grade 1) to standard 4 (grade 6). All classes shared one room and were divided by curtains. The staff members in 1978 were the principal Mrs. Nyangiwe and teachers, Mrs. Eland and, Mrs. Lande.  In March 1978 a single block was erected where Nduli Primary is today, and an additional class was created to accommodate standard 5 (grade 7). The school came to be known as Nduli Intermediary. Mrs. Nyangiwe taught briefly in the new school, and then retired in the same year. Mr. Vuyo Nqwemeshe was appointed as a new principal in 1978, and an additional male teacher, Mr. Barnett Fula was also appointed.

Jane Senoamali, the Nduli Mayor and Mr. Fula acting principal at Nduli Intermediary School plant trees at the school, 1989

In 1989 Mr. Fula was acting principal. In April 1989, Nduli Intermediary School appointed a white principal, Mr Grobelaar.  Mr. Grobelaar and his committee requested donations from private companies to assist with the construction of additional classrooms. They received support from Ceres Fruit Growers and built three classrooms in 1990.  The government, which had at first refused to assist, then built three additional classrooms.

White and coloured schools in Ceres assisted with donations of stationery and classroom equipment. Del Monte, a fruit company situated in Tulbagh, granted a donation of R15000.00 for all non-white schools in the area. Other private companies provided schools with boxes of science apparatus for primary schools, as most black schools had no science equipment.

Nduli Primary School

Nduli Intermediary School continued to run classes from sub-A to standard seven until 1990. From 1990 there was unrest at the school, and Mr. Grobelaar was forced to leave during the first term and stayed away for the whole of the second term. Learners were demanding that the school provide classes up to standard ten, and that there should be a Learner Representative Council.   Parents of the learners had discussions with the principal, followed by a prayer. They requested his return to the school but he turned them down. He later agreed to return to the school in July 1990 on condition a black principal was appointed. In 191 Mr. Guqa was appointed as principal of Nduli Intermediary School and Mr Grobelaar became deputy principal.

Iingcinga Zethu Secondary School    

The school added standards 8 and 9 in 1991 in response to learners’ demands.  Three classrooms were provided to accommodate standards 8 and 9. Mrs. Smit was in charge of the new classes.  These classes were then referred to as a Learning Centre and several lady teachers from Ceres gave voluntary assistance with tuition.  The Intermediary School continued from sub-A to standard 7. The Learning Centre gradually developed into Iingcinga Zethu Secondary School. With the assistance of Mr. De Clerk from Ceres Fruit Growers, Iingcinga Zethu Secondary School was built in the grounds of the Learning Centre. Parents from Nduli had paid a minimum contribution of R50, 00 per head to assist with the building. Today Nduli location has Nduli Primary School, which cater for grade R to grade 7, and Iingcinga Zethu Secondary School, which caters for grade 8 to grade 12.

Ms Jane Senoamali was elected as a Councilor for Nduli in 1981 and became the first female mayor in Nduli. She was the only woman from Ceres amongst an all-male group of mayors during their training programme in North West Province in 1988.

Expansion of Nduli

With influx control regulations repealed in 1986, Nduli began to expand rapidly. Polocross got its name from the polo fields on which the settlement was located.  The establishment of Polocross was a form of resistance against the municipality’s failure to provide housing for black people and delays in developing the area.

Polocross is an informal settlement set up in 1993, inspired by Chris Hani’s mass mobilization strategy of “peoples’ power”. The erection of shacks in Polocross created political tension between African National Congress and Pan-Africanist Congress supporters, with each party claiming control over the territory. Political activists such as Treya Sifile and Mzwamandla Duma played a leading role in encouraging people to settle in Polocross. Mr. Duma remarked, “We saw that the process of building houses was intentionally delayed. We decided that instead of letting our people to stay in bad conditions, we’ll rather allow them to build shacks as we were used in staying in shacks from our original place in Sakkiesbaai.”

The area is now semi-formal with different phases of development, such as RDP houses. The main street in Nduli was named in commemoration of the Chief of Staff of uMkhonto Wesize and South African Communist Party leader, the late Chris Hani.

Shacks are still evident among the houses and are referred to as Isigxum-gxum, a Xhosa word meaning informal settlements. The V-shaped section on the map, overlapping the old settlement, is Polocross. It is also an indication of how Nduli has developed since the lifting of the influx control.  Polocross is divided into five sections Mooibloom, Mnandi, Luxolweni, Nkonjane and Zibonele.

Current challenges facing this community are shortage of housing, electrification, sanitation and unemployment.  Residents are constantly exposed to fires, health hazards and very poor living conditions.

 Social redress

“Housing is not just about building houses. It is also about transforming our residential areas and building communities with closer access to work and social amenities, including sports and recreation facilities,” – President Jacob Zuma

Segregation and apartheid policies were very influential in town and city planning.  Whites were given areas close to the city centers with access to transport, work and entertainment, whilst blacks were largely restricted from the benefits of urban life.  Post 1994 policies, legislature and funding seek to redress these economic imbalances and injustices.   The Restitution of Land Rights Act (Act 22 of 1994) provides for equitable redress and the restoration of property to individuals or communities who were dispossessed of land rights after June 1913, as a result of racially discriminatory legislation. A Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights, a component of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, was established to implement these objectives. By the cut-off date of 31 December 1998 more than 80 000 urban and rural claims had been lodged, 15 526 of which were in the Western Cape.

However, the restitution program did not reach all the former residents of Sakkiesbaai.  This led to unhappiness in the way information was disseminated and explained to the community. A number of residents were not compensated and are still waiting for the response to their claim from the Department of Rural Development.  The Waaksaamheidsvereniging of Rooikamp lodged a community land claim on behalf of former residents of Zwartvlei and Rooikamp.  The claim was registered with the Land Claims Department and is still being processed.

A former resident of Rooikamp commented that “Dit le vandag nog vlak in die geheue amper asof dit gister was en onteenseglik soos ‘n spook wat my jaag en wat vandag nog steeds met bitterheid afgesluk word veral gesien teen die agtergrond van die huidige  stadige vordering van grondhervorming. Daar is al soveel ontslapenis wat gewag en gehoop het op die regstelling van die verlede maar kon nie die regstelling ervaar, en het dan in bitterheid gesterf, wat ek somtyds aanskou het op hulle sterfbeddens.

Dit voel by tye dat ons steeds magteloos staan alhoewel vir meer as 17 jaar in ‘n nuwe demokrasie maar ons hou aan om te hoop dalk……”

In spite of the pain and suffering caused by forced removals and inequalities of apartheid, the collective memory of previous residents of Sakkiesbaai and Rooikamp is that of a very vibrant multi-cultural community.

Although they were two separated communities split by a railway line, they socialized and interacted with each other.  They shared a community spirit in which race was not an issue.  Cultures, religions and traditions was respected and tolerated.  They frequently visited each other and were invited to important ceremonies and rituals and shared a common language, Afrikaans.  There were inter-racial marriages and relationships, children attending the same schools and people attended the same churches and were buried in the same church burial grounds.

Intermarried, attended school together and were buried together in the AME cemetery.  However, the implementation of apartheid brought an end to this situation and enforced a separation between the coloured and black communities of Ceres.

According to Jacobus Smit Boer, “some Sakkiesbaai people were buried in the AME Church’s burial grounds together with coloureds while others were sent back home to be buried.”

Many of the people of Rooikamp and Sakkiesbaai who were interviewed recalled the harmonious relationship between the communities in the earlier days. Apart from worshipping together and attending school together at the AME Church, there was a great deal of interaction amongst the communities.  When performing traditional ceremonies, black people would invite coloured people from Rooikamp.

Sakkiesbaai residents also used the river nearby for bathing young men who had just completed initiation school. “The schools were built across the river, near the trees”, Mr. Ben Van der Merwe recalled. Many former Sakkiesbaai residents also carried on their traditions in Nduli. Early this year (2011) the Lithunya family produced a video tape of their initiation ceremony, passed from generation to generation through oral tradition.

Mr. Jack Lithunya senior resident in Nduli had been resident in Sakkiesbaai. The sjambok, donated by Mr Lithunya was traditionally crafted by men, using a strip of skin from an ox, which is then wound around a stick. It was used for herding cattle and sheep.

Mr Lithunya also donated the reed mat, normally manufactured by women. The mat is traditionally used by women but also for use of the household. The skill of crafting sjamboks and mats was passed from generation to generation.

Jacobus Smit Boer had friends in Sakkiesbaai. He still meets with those friends from time to time to catch up on news. He recalled performance of traditional music in Sakkiesbaai. “In weddings music was made with guitars and drums and we joined in and danced around large fires. Black people would prepare a home-made beer called uMqombothi, because they were not allowed to buy liquor in bottle stores. For those who were not doing for traditional purposes, but for sale, they were raided and if found were arrested and fined”.

According to Mr. Nzimeni Sifile, “if found illegal brewing a specific fine known as “roger” was charged to those who were caught.” Mr. Sifile was a former resident of Sakkiesbaai, a senior resident of Nduli and an ex-mayor.

Members of the two communities would also invite one another to weddings, ceremonies and friendly gatherings and soccer matches. The names of two soccer teams are mentioned in the municipality minutes of 16 February 1951. The Young Tigers under the captaincy of Mr. W. Yawa requested a soccer field, which was eventually approved with one condition that they were not to play on Sundays. The Young Americans Football Club requested for a water tap in 1962 after the forced removals.

There were also inter-relationships and marriages between coloureds and blacks. “Most black people were speaking Afrikaans. That is why we coloureds could communicate well with them”, Mrs. Sophia Boer recalls.

According to Johannes Geldenhuys, “young men had relationships with coloured women”. It was about respect for humanity and the sharing of a collective community identity.  Forced removals did not only take away that community identity and spirit but it brought pain, humiliation and suffering to former residents.

However, it could not take away their collective memory. Today this memory is passed on from generation to generation in a bid to encourage respect and dignity for humanity.  In doing so they are trying to promote social cohesion, unity and thereby improving the lives of people in Nduli, Rooikamp and the whole of Ceres.