Fighting the magwaza – together

Umbulwane is a small farm near Ladysmith in Natal. Until 1980 Joseph Mkwanazi lived there with his family. They were a poor family.

Joseph didn’t own any land. But the rent was low. They kept some cows and chickens. And Joseph had a job in Ladysmith. The farm was not far from town. So Joseph walked to work everyday.

Life was hard. But the family lived peacefully – until June 1980. In that month white men in trucks arrived at Umbulwane. They painted numbers on the doors of all the houses. Then they left.

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People know the numbers on the door mean trouble

The people of Umbulwane were worried. They knew the numbers were trouble. And they were right. Five months later the white men came back. They came with six vans full of police and guns. And they also came with a bulldozer – the machine that people call “Magwaza”.

On that day Joseph Mkwanazi was at work. So he didn’t see the Magwaza smash h is house down.

“They did not give us a word of warning,” says Mr Mkwanazi. “My wife was outside collecting fire­ wood. Our three year old baby was inside. They took her outside and she ran away.

“I came home and found my house broken down. All my tools were broken. They left me with only one room. Then they came back later to break down everything.”

Joseph Mkwanazi was not the only one who lost his horne. On that day the government knocked down the houses of many people at Umbulwane.

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Shacks and tin toilets – the kind of place people are moved to

In 1978 they did the same at another farm nearby. This farm is called Steencoalspruit. They also broke down houses and moved people from their land.

The people from Umbulwane and Steencoalspruit are’ -not the only people who have suffered. Since 1963, the government has pushed over 323 thousand people off the land. They said the people were living in “black spots” – and so they sent them off to the homelands. When the people did not want to move, they sent bulldozers and police.

Now they want to move even more people. Today over 100 thousand people are still living in “black spots” in the Ladysmith area. Their families have lived for over 100 years at places like Matiwaneskop, Driefontein, Ndonyane, Jononoskop, Umbulwane, Balderskraal and Steen­coalspruit.

At most of these places the numbers are already painted on the houses. The people are waiting for the Magwaza to come.

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Members of the new organisation

But they will not move easily. In March 1984 the leaders from all these areas had a meeting. They got together to talk about ways to fight back.

They decided to start a new organi­zation. In the organization the people will fight together to stay on their land. For the first time people from all the “black spots” In the Ladysmith area are standing together in their struggle.

Learn and Teach spoke to people from the new organization. They explained why the new organization is so important.

“First everyone must stand together,” said one person. “The landowners and the tenants must stand together. The government likes landowners and tenants to fight each other. This is the government’s biggest weapon when they move people.

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“Our ancestors are buried here – we will not move”

For this reason we want tenants and landowners to fight together in one organization.”

“All the black spots must join the organization to fight for their land,” said another person. “It is easy for the government to move people one by one. But if we stand together they will be in for a surprise.”

“The government has got a big whip,” says Chief Zikalala. He is the leader of the people from Driefontein. “But before they beat us they must hit hard. We will fight with all our strength. Our people will die before they move.”

After the flood

For a long time, people in South Africa have waited for rain. The land is dry and cracked. People cannot grow anything. And their animals are dying a slow, painful death.

At the end of January, the people in Natal, Swaziland and Mozambique got rain. It came and came and came. It didn’t stop.

Strong winds and heavy rain hit the dry land. Soon the rivers were too full. Water flooded the land and many people died.

Many people lost their houses. Roads and bridges were broken. The people lost nearly everything before the rain. But after the rain, they had nothing left.

Created by Readiris, Copyright IRIS 2005Philemon Myeni comes from the part of Natal that was hit by the storm. He was not there when the rain came. But his family was there.

Philemon has not heard from his family. He is very worried. He waits and waits. The days pass slowly and painfully. He told us his story:

“l was born in the village of Bhamganoma near Mkuze. It is a country place and the land is good. We keep animals. We plough along the Mkuze river. We grow mealies, corn, small beans and mbumba. The river is fu II of fish and good for swimming.

A few years ago I fell in love. wanted to marry Elizabeth. I needed R 120 for lobola. So I worked in a bakery in Mkuze for R40 a month. I paid the lobola after a few months.

“I lived in Bharnqanorna with my wife Elizabeth Ntombithini and our children. Their names are Bhekuyise, Tholakele, Ndukuzakhe. My grandmother, my mother and my sisters also live there. And so do my two brothers, Joseph and Elias.

There is no money in Bharnqanorna. So some of the family must go and work in the cities. Joseph and Elias went to work in the city.

But then Elias lost his job. The family had a meeting. “Elias has worked hard for a long time in the city,” they said. “It is time for him to come home and be with us again.” Now it was my turn to get a job in the city. I had to leave my new wife.

I felt strange. I was frightened and also excited. And for the first time in my life, I felt lonely. The time went as fast as a Putco bus. Too soon it was the day for me to leave.

My wife and children came to say goodbye. They were happy because I was going to fetch money. They smiled and waved. That was the last time I saw them.

I came to Durban and got a place in the Kwa-Mashu hostel. My brother Joseph and other friends were there. I got a job at the animal hospital. That’s a place that looks after sick animals.

They paid me R 100 a month. I sent R40 a month home. I felt happy and proud. My job was to clean the offices for the whites. I also made them tea and fed the animals.

I missed my family. And I didn’t like sharing a small room with four other men. But I was not unhappy. Sometimes we went and watched soccer on Saturdays.

Sometimes we went to the city. We walked the streets and looked In shop windows.
Slowly I was learning the ways of the city. Sometimes people from our village came to the hostel. They brought the news. When people went home, I gave them money for the family. We do not use letters. We cannot write.

One night in January this year my whole life changed. I was sitting in the room at the hostel. All five of us were there. We were talking and cooking. The radio was playing. I was fixing my shoes. Suddenly I heard over the radio the name of our village – Bhamganoma. My hands stopped working. Everybody stopped talking.

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Many people lost their houses

The voice from the radio said a storm hit our village. The voice said people died in our village. I could not speak. My body was hot, then cold. Then I knew I must go home.

I went to work the next morning. I went to see my boss. We call him “Zibukwane”. This means “Spectacles” in English. I told him what happened at Bhamganoma. I told him I was scared that my family was dead.

“Spectacles” got angry when he heard my troubles. Maybe he could not understand because my English is not so good. “It’s nothing to do with us,” he said. “I don’t really care. If you want to leave, then leave. But don’t come back.”

Then Spectacles paid me R30 and told me to go away. I asked for my blue card. I did not get it. I asked for my notice pay. I did not get it.

I stood there looking at Spectacles. He looks after animals. But he doesn’t want to look after people. Maybe he only likes animals. Then I walked away from him.

We hired a car with the R30. We took messages and money from many people. We travelled north to Bhamganoma. The roads were full of dirt and stones. Sometimes we had to move broken trees out of the road.

When we got to the Umfolozi river, we stopped and looked. The bridge over the river was broken. We just sat there in the car. We looked at the broken bridge. And we watched the brown, muddy water of the Umfolozi.

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Many bridges were broken

Nobody spoke. We knew we could not get home. Then we slowly turned the car around. We drove back to the Kwa-Mashu hostel.

I heard that all the bridges were broken. People from the village coutd not bring any news about my family. I felt helpless and alone.

Created by Readiris, Copyright IRIS 2005For the first time, I wished I knew how to read and write. I wanted to send a letter home. And I wished someone at home could write to me.

I had no money left. I could not pay the hostel rent. So I left the hostel. I went to stay with a friend.

My troubles made me feel sick. I walked to the city. I did not know what to do. I just started talking to strangers. Then I spoke to a middle aged woman. I told her how I got fired. And I told her about my problems at home.

This woman listened. Then she said she could help. She told me of an organization that helps workers. She said the organization could help me.

I went to this place. It is called the African Workers Association. They took me to a lawyer. The lawyer listened to my story and sent a letter to the animal hospital. So now I wait to hear from the lawyer.

I have not gone home yet. People say that all of my family are dead.

But I do not know. At night I dream of angels and brown water. Maybe the angels are my children. As soon as I have enough money, I will go home. I haven’t seen my wife for two years. I must know If she is alive or dead. I want to go home.”

Unity in struggle

Early one Sunday morning, two months ago, while most of you were in dreamland, we crawled out of bed and made our way to Mathopestad, in the western Transvaal.

Women from many different places were meeting in Mathopestad. The women were meeting because they are all fighting a struggle that is one and the same. They are fighting this struggle with the help of TRAC — the Transvaal Rural Action Committee.

When we got to Mathopestad, we joined everybody for a meeting in the graveyard. The proud women of Mathopestad wanted to show their visitors the new fence around the graveyard. The fence was the first thing the women built after they won their struggle for Mathopestad to stay in South Africa — and not to become part of Bophuthatswana.

After the fence-opening meeting, the women of Mathopestad gave us a huge, wonderful, tasty lunch. After lunch, we licked our lips, took out our pens and paper, and spoke to some of the women who were gathered in Mathopestad.

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Women from Bloedfontein at the meeting in Mathopestad

Mama Lydia Kompe from TRAC told us: “We brought the women together to build unity. All the women have the same kind of problems. For example, the women from Brits and Huhudi are fighting against forced removal. The people of Matjakeneng, Braklaagte and Bloedfontein are fighting because they don’t want their areas to become part of the ‘homelands.’

“Some of the women who are here have already won their struggle — like the women from Driefontein, Kwa-Ngema and Mathopestad. We wanted these people to tell the others about their struggles and to give them support and hope.”

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A woman from Brits with a T-shirt that says it all

Ellen Khoza and Johanna Tele from Brits said: “We came to this meeting to talk about our problems as women. Since Friday night we have talked about many things. We talked about removals and self-help projects. We want to make and sell things so that we can use the money to help de­tainees in our area.

“At this meeting we saw that we are not the only ones who are suffering. We learnt from this meeting that if women are united, then there is nothing to stop us. To the women in Brits, we say: “If we are not united then the government will send us to Letlhabile.”

And another group of women from Driefontein in the Eastern Transvaal said: “We have won our fight against the removals in Driefontein. We came to this meeting to help other women who are still having problems. We want them to know that women can fight their own struggle and win. After the death of Mr Mkhize in Driefontein, women took over the fight and won. The only weapon we used was unity.

“We are going to tell the other women in Driefontein about women who are still suffering in other places. At this meeting some women told us about their problems. For example, most of the women say they do not have food for their children. We told them what we do in Driefontein to help ourselves. We plant things and sell them. We work together and support one another. And this way we are strong, very strong.”

Dorah Sechogo from Huhudi said: ‘ ‘We came here as women from Huhudi to tell other women about our problems and so other women from other places can help us. Our children are killed by the vigilantes and we have been evicted from our houses. We are now living in the Roman Catholic church in Huhudi. The administration board wants to move us to a place called Pudimore. But we are all united and we will soon overcome our problems.”

A woman from Braklaagte near Zeerust said: “We came here because the government in Bophuthatswana wants to give us a new chief who says that Braklaagte belongs to Bophuthatswana. But we don’t want this new chief. We don’t want to be under Bophuthatswana because the government of Bophuthatswana doesn’t talk straight.

“We have learned a lot from other women at this meeting. We have learned that we must be united and strong. We also heard how other women have helped themselves by starting self-help projects. We must now do the same.”

A woman from Mogopa near Ventersdorp said: “In 1984 big white lorries from Bophuthatstwana came to Mogopa one night. They packed us and moved us without saying any­thing. Now we are waiting to go back home. We know that we must hang on and stand up like soldiers.

“At the meeting here we have heard about the suffering of our sisters in other areas. When we heard their stories, the tears were running from the eyes of every woman. It is not nice to be pushed out of your home.”

“Yes, there was much crying,” said Mama Lydia Kompe. “But then the crying stopped because we know that tears won’t take away the problems. We must have action. I think this meet­ing was important because every woman agreed that she must work hand in hand with other women. We must start working together in com­mittees and organizations — and then we must join hands with our husbands and children.”

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The old and the young at the meeting in Mathopestad

“WE, THE WOMEN SAY…….”
We, the women of Mathopestad, Huhudi, Brits, Braklaagte, Bloedfontein, Matjakeneng, Mogopa, Rooigrond, Driefontein and Kwa-Ngema, gathered here at Mathopestad on 22 November 1986 say:

We demand an end to all forced removals
Our sisters from Brits are under daily threats from the bulldozers. Let them stay where they are in peace. Oukasie has been their home for over half a century. They have a right to remain. We believe that all communities under threat of removal have a right to remain.

We demand an end to the stealing of our citizenship
Many of us, especially those from Bloedfontein, Braklaagte and Mat­jakeneng are in danger of losing our citizenship to Bophuthatswana. We are South Africans, we refuse to give up our citizenship. Mangope is a stranger to all of us. We want him to leave us and our land alone. We have seen the suffering of people in Bophuthatswana. We do not want to live in fear in that terrible place.

We demand help for all victims of forced removals
We wept when we heard the terrible stories of how our sisters in Mogo­pa and Rooigrond have suffered. They have suffered the pain of forced removal. They were forced to leave their peaceful homes. Now they are so very poor, living as refugees and squatters. Let them go home now! Let them rebuild their homes and their lives. We demand the same for all victims of forced removal all over our country.

We demand an end to detentions and for the police and vigilantes to leave us in peace
Some of us have been detained, others have had our children taken from us by the police. In Huhudi and Brits we have been attacked by the vigilantes. People have been killed and homes destroyed. We demand that we mothers be left to live in peace with our children. We want this, not only for ourselves, but for all South Africans.

Lastly, some of us from Driefontein, Kwa-Ngema and Mathopestad say that we have won our struggles. Yet, this does not mean that we can now sit back. We cannot live in peace until all communities, all over the country, are free from removal, free from losing their citizenship, free from detention, and free from the attacks of vigilantes.

We women pledge ourselves to stand together in unity with our commu­nities and other communities who are struggling against forced removals and other evils. We will organize all of our women to do the same. In this way we believe we will move nearer to a free and equal South Africa.

Anger in the Vaal

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“They picked up dead bodies in Sharpeville every day this week. They picked up dead schoolchildren, dead mothers and fathers, dead community councillors. By the end of the week they had found 30 bodies – but residents said there were more.”

That’s how one newspaper wrote about the anger and the pain in Sharpeville at the beginning of September. And it wasn’t only Sharpeville. It was the same in Evaton, Sebokeng, Boipatong and Bophelong.

Nobody knows how many people died and how many were injured. But people say Sebokeng hospital was full. And many more people lay hurt in their homes. They were too scared to go to hospital. They said the police were waiting there to arrest them.

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Police in the Vaal

It all began when the Lekoa town council sent letters to people saying the rent was going up. Very few people voted for this council. And very few people have money to pay more rent.

The people met in a church in Sharpeville to talk about ways to fight the rent increase. The people chose a special rent committee to talk for them.

At a meeting on the first Sunday in September, two thousand people met at the church. They decided to call for a stay-away from work and from school the next day. They would then march to the council offices· to complain about the new rent. They decided to have a peaceful march.

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Sharpeville 1984

But it didn’t work out that way. Some people say that the people lost their tempers when they went to a councillor’s house. They wanted him to join them in the march – and he started shooting at them. Some people say the trouble started because the police were everywhere – and that never helps anything. Others say that the people had just had enough.

“Many people have no jobs and the cost of living goes up every day,” says one person from the Vaal. “Rents, permits and transport go up. Then there are water and electricity bills. And then sales tax went up. And just last month H.P. charges went up. And after all this, wages stay the same.

“And then we have many people losing jobs, mostly in the steeI and chemical factories. And then we must talk about the terrible housing shortage. People live squashed up like animals – and they don’t have much chance of getting a bigger or better house.

“But most of all the people have had . enough of greedy councillors. These councillors eat and eat – and then they just wipe their mouths clean. They own most of the shops and businesses in the township. And they are always trying to get more.

“The people hate the councillors because they are greedy. But they hate them more for doing things without talking to the people first. They just tell the people what to do ­ and nobody chose them in the first place.”

Three councillors were killed and their houses and businesses were burnt down. But the people also burnt and looted other shops and homes. Why?

“The newspapers say that the people went for Indian shops:’ says another person. “But this isn’t true. Nearly every shop was looted and burnt down. The dry-cleaning shop full of clothes belonging to African people was burnt down. I lost my jacket in the fire. I think people looted shops because they were hungry – a hungry stomach knows no law.”

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Some leaders were not happy about some of the things that people did.

One leader said that at times ‘tsotsis’ took over. Quite a few people were stabbed when people fought over goods in the shops.

Rent was the main… reason for the anger. But most people say it’s more than rent. It’s more than the hated councillors. It’s more than the shortage of houses and jobs. It’s all of these things.· It’s the way the government treats black people in this country. Until the government throws away all of apartheid, they will have anger and hatred – just like we saw in the Vaal.

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A councillor’s house in Sharpeville

NO PLACE LIKE FIETAS

Untitled0-8Ten years ago if you wanted to find the best bargains and the cheapest shops in Jo’burg, there was only place to go — Fietas. But today there is no Fietas, only Pageview, where Fietas used to be.

The government said Fietas must be for whites only. So many people had to leave. All the Africans went to Soweto, the ‘coloureds’ went to Eldo’s and all the Indians went to Lenz. And while people were busy moving out, the bulldozers moved in, knocking down the old houses and shops.

Learn and Teach went to Lenasia to visit Mrs Naidoo. Mrs Naidoo lived in Fietas for most of her life. She told us about the good old days.

EVERYONE KNEW EVERYONE

“When I first left Fietas, I used to cry all the time.” says Mrs Naidoo. “I went to town every-day because I was so lonely. In Fietas there were always people around. We knew everyone. Here in Lenz, people are boarders in their own homes. People pay rent but their houses are not homes. People do not spend any time at home. Everybody goes to work early and comes back late.”

SHARING THE GOOD AND THE BAD

Then Mrs Naidoo started to talk about life in Fietas. “In Fietas life was beautiful,” says Mrs Naidoo. “Everybody was for everybody. No matter who you were, or what you were, no matter what colour you were, everybody cared for each other.

“For women Fietas was especially good. There were no creches or things like that. So all the women helped each other. The women were there, at home all day. Lots of the women worked, but they worked at home, doing dressmaking and things like that.

“My husband wouldn’t look after the children. No, he wouldn’t do that. He would say, “Take your ‘parcel’ with you or get somebody to look after them. I can’t look after children.” So you went to your friends.

SISTERS TOGETHER

“I had a friend next door who really helped me a lot. We were like sisters. All our babies were delivered at home with a midwife or a nurse. We used to help each other. When she gave birth, I helped. I cooked for her, and looked after the kids. And when I was sick, she used to come and cook for me.

“If my friend went to see a film, she would say, ‘You must go and see that film, it’s very nice. You go and I will look after the children.’ If my friend cooked something special, she always sent some to me and I did the same.

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Feitas — the houses were old, the taps leaked — but it was home

NO SPACE

“Our biggest problem in Fietas was space. The houses were very small, two bedrooms and a kitchen. But I think that brought people together. If you were having a party, or a feast, then everyone helped.

“People with big houses let you store your things in their house. Or, if you had a visitor, they let your visitor sleep at their house.

“There was no place for the children to play — we had no gardens. So the children played in the street. There was always hopscotch drawn on the road and skipping ropes tied across the street.

“But you knew the children were safe. The streets were very narrow — only one car could go down. So people drove very slowly. Also the children were always nearby. It was easy to keep an eye on them.

BUYING ON THE BOOK

“When you needed something, the shops were right there — you just sent the children, your own child or your neighbour’s child. And if you did not have cash, you bought ‘on the book.’

“We all kept books. When the kids went to the shop, the shopkeeper wrote down what you bought. At the end of the week, or at the end of the month, you took your book to the shop. The shop-keeper added up how much you owed and you paid him. “We also bought food every day, but now the shops are so far away you must buy for a week, or for the month.

 DIFFERENT CUSTOMS

“People had different customs. Some people were Moslems, others were Hindu. At the end of the Moslem fast, everyone waited in the streets, watching for the new moon. When the children saw the moon, they used to run down the streets, shouting. Then we all knew that we could eat.

“In October it was the Hindu Diwali. The night before Diwali people lit little lamps with camphor oil in them. The whole of Fietas smelt of camphor and excitement. And on Diwali night, there were wonderful fireworks. The whole sky was full of light from the fireworks.

RICH LANDLORDS

“We were not without problems in Fietas. The landlords were rich from the rent we paid while we lived from hand-to-mouth. The rents were high for such small houses. We had no electricity and water in the houses.

“Sometimes four families shared a yard. You all shared a tap and the toilet too. Often there were fights about cleaning. When I got angry, I used to say, “Yissus, we have to clean other people’s shit here also.” Then people would get shy and do the work.

IT HURT TO LEAVE

“But even with the bad times, I felt very hurt about leaving Fietas. It was my home. It was the place I wanted to be. When we left, I knew I was leaving my home behind. This Lenz is not home.

“Now when I go to the clinic, I meet people from Coronation who lived in Fietas. When we talk, I say that I am away from home. There can never be another Fietas, no matter where you go. Everyone I meet says that. Before, in Fietas, we were part of the community, but here in Lenz we are people on our own.

” Life has changed. I’ m not the same person I was in Fietas. In Fietas I used to get along with everyone. Here in Lenz you don’t even see your neighbours. Everybody is for themselves here.

“Even the other people who moved to Lenz from Fietas are different now. People are scared. In Fietas you always left your door open. But here everyone locks their doors, even if they are in the backyard.

“When I see the people next door, it’s hello and finished. You can’t think of your neighbour when you can’t even think of yourself. “I hardly ever see my old friends from Fietas. They are all living in different places. My old neighbour lives in Actonville, in Benoni. Sometimes we visit each other at weekends.

PLAYING WITH PEOPLE’S LIVES

“I don’t think that the government understands what they are doing. They sit and say this place must be white, this place must be black or indian or whatever — like they are playing a game of chess.

“But they don’t know how it feels to lose your home and your friends. They don’t know how it feels to move with the help of bulldozers.”

OUKASIE, YES! LETLHABILE NO!

Untitled0-30Just outside Brits, near Pretoria, you will find Oukasie. The houses of Ouksaie suit the name – they are old and rusty. But they are homes to the people who live there. And the people of Oukasie are fighting for the right to live there.

The story of Oukasie started in 1935. The government built a few tin shacks for the people who worked at Brits. Since that time the government has not built another house there.

So people built their own houses. And people who did not have money to build houses, built shacks on other people’s plots.

When you go to Oukasie today, you will still think it is 1935. There are no tarred roads. There are no drains for water. There is no electricity and no street lights. And people still use bucket toilets.

What more can we say than, 'If you're tired of Oukasie, you're tired of life'?

What more can we say than, ‘If you’re tired of Oukasie, you’re tired of life’?

LETLHABILE – A LIVING GRAVEYARD?

25 kilometres away the government has built Letlhabile – a new township. LetlHabile has about 175 houses. Each house costs about R4 000.

People who do not have money to buy a house, can get a site. Each site has a tent, a tap and a flush toilet. If you get a site there, you must build a house within two years.

There are no halls or churches in Letlhabile. But there is a graveyard. The graveyard was built before anyone moved there. In fact, 500 graves were dug before there was one person living in Letlhabile.

The government says they did their duty. They gave the people of Oukasie a new place to live. Then, last year, the government said Oukasie was no longer a ‘black township’. And everyone living there must move.

FIGHTING TOGETHER

But the people of Oukasie did not want to move to Letlhabile. So they came together. They knew if they wanted to stay in Oukasie, they must be united. So they started the Brits Action Committee (BAC).

People in Oukasie were lucky. Many people living there, knew about organising. Many of them belonged to trade unions like NAAWU (National Automobile and Allied Workers Union) and MAWU (Metal and Allied workers Union). But they also asked people from the Transvaal Rural Action Committe (TRAC) to help them.

The Administration Board in Brits said everyone must move. And they refused to give anyone a house or a site. But the Brits Action Committee fought against this.

MOSHE WINS A HOUSE

In May last year, BAC helped Moshe Mahlaela to take the Administration Board to court. Moshe wanted a house in Oukasie. But the Administration Board said no.

Moshe won his case. But the house that the Administration Board gave him only had one room and no windows. But still, to Moshe, it was a house. And to the people of Oukasie, it was a victory.

SAMSON’S STRUGGLE

Samson Nembahe was the next person to ask for a place. He wanted a site to build a house. “I went to the Administration offices,” Samson said. “But the man at the offices said that all the people in Oukasie were moving to Lethlabile.

“So I went to talk to BAC. One person from BAC came with me to see the superintendent. When we got there, the superintendent changed his story. This time he said he would give me a site. He said I must just tell him where I want it.

“I did not hear from him. So I went to see him again and again. First he said an engineer must check the site. Next he wanted the stand number. Then he wanted to see the plans of my house. Then he asked for my lodger’s permit and my rent receipts.

“But, in the end, with the help of BAC, I won. And the people of Oukasie are helping me to build my house. They know that I am not working so I do not have money. But they are pleased that I won the right to build.”

WORKERS JOIN IN THE FIGHT

BAC did not just help people to fight for houses in Oukasie. They used their trade unions to get their bosses to help them. They told their bosses to ask the government not to move them to Letlhabile. They asked Firestone to stop building a creche in Letlhabile. They said they must rather build the creche in Oukasie.

The bosses in Brits tried to speak to the government – but they had no success. They made a public statement against the forced removal of the people of Brits. They also said they would give money to make Oukasie a better place to live in.

OUKASIE – A SLUM!

Learn and Teach spoke to Marshall Buys – the chairperson of BAC. We asked Marshall why the government wants the people of Oukasie to move.

“The government says that there is not enough land in Oukasie,” Marshall told us. “So Oukasie cannot get any bigger than it is right now. They also say that the Oukasie is a ‘slum’. They said it will cost too much money to make Oukasie a better place.

“But we do not think what the government says is true. Just next to the location there is a big farm. If the government wanted to buy it, they could use that land for Oukasie.

“Some parts of the Oukasie do look like a ‘slum’. But whose fault is that? If the government used the money they spent on Letlhabile, Oukasie would not look like a slum.”

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

“But we think the government wants to move the Oukasie because it is very near a white township called Elandsrand. And Letlabile is very near Bophuthatswana. We think that maybe the government plans to give Letlabile to Bophuthatswana. If the government does this, then all the people who belong to trade unions in Brits will have big problems. Bophuthatswana does not allow trade unions from South Africa to work in Bophuthatswana.

HELPING OURSELVES

We asked Marshall what is happening in Brits now. Marshall said, “The government can say what it likes. We will not move. Right now people in Oukasie are very busy. We are cleaning our township.

“We want to show the government that if they cannot help us, then we will help ourselves. The people of Oukasie are very strong. They built a school and they are fixing the roads.”

‘GA GO NA MO RE YANG’

Maybe the T-shirts will help the government to hear what the people of Oukasie say

Maybe the T-shirts will help the government to hear what the people of Oukasie say

Everywhere you look in Brits, you see people wearing T-shirts that say, “Ga go mo re yang, re dula go na mo” (We are not going anywhere, we are here to stay).

The message on the T-shirt is loud and clear. Maybe the T-shirts will help the government to hear what the people of Oukasie say.