Bloemfontein the Segregated city

Market Square Bloemfontein, date unknown

In the early days of the Free State, citizenship was limited to the White population only. This became part of the constitution in 1854, and included those who were in possession of land and who may have been able to claim their right to it.

Voting and land rights

The right to vote was also limited to White citizens only. Non-Whites could not be elected for government and were denied the right to direct representation, even by a White person. Certain Non-White management bodies were allowed to function, but the state still had full control over such bodies and freedom of decision making was governed by the state. Thus, a Black leader of a body could be appointed or relieved of his duties by the government of the time.

This had drastic consequences as Blacks under “White territory” could not elect and appoint their own leader, making inheritance of leadership according to family ties null and void. In addition, the powers and obligations of the leaders were dictated by the state and management bodies were not represented in central government in any way. Later, a White representative was appointed to act as a link between management bodies and the government, an example of this was Mopeli and his people at Witsieshoek.

According to Ordinance 5 of 1876, the majority of Non-Whites in the OFS did not qualify to purchase land. This left the government with a physical problem of accommodating them within the border of the country. This became a burning issue as Non-White labour was essential for the running of white farms and businesses alike.

One of the primary obstacles regarding this matter was finding a piece of land suitable for Non-White settlement. This could only be obtained by purchasing or leasing land from White farmers which led to complaints by neighbouring farmers not wanting Non-White areas adjacent to their farms. Also, boundaries of such properties were often not properly defined resulting in further complications.

The only option was for the government to create common spaces of settlement of a concentrated nature, within the boundaries set by government and under the control and supervision of an appointed White guardian. These became known as rural or urban locations. Alternatively, the government could draw up a policy for a more scattered form of small population areas throughout the country.

The rural locations had to be as far from the Whites as possible and strict control was to be maintained. It is interesting to note that the land occupied by such a concentrated population of people never became the property of that particular community, the people merely had the right of occupation, not ownership, and this was still subject to government decision.

Urban non-white settlement ‘Dorpslokasies’

The settlement of Non-Whites also took place in the urban areas, known as ‘urban locations.’ These differed from the rural settlements as the latter were deliberately created in order to concentrate contain groups of Blacks in certain areas in the country, while the former developed spontaneously and consisted of groups of Non-White people who were not necessarily the same nationality or ethnicity.  The choice of location also remained a government privilege.

During the early years of the existence of such settlements little or no legislation existed which governed these areas. These settlements resulted merely from the gathering of Non- Whites in a specific area for the purpose of residential occupation of the land they found themselves on while working in that particular urban centre. It can therefore be said that these settlements developed as a result of labour opportunities which were created within the particular city or town. Therefore, the creation and development of these urban locations was closely linked to the development of the particular city or town to which it was related. One should bear in mind that the occupied land remained in the hands of the state and the community merely enjoyed occupational rights over it.

The first government regulations regarding the occupation of urban land by Non-Whites was in the form of Ordinance 1 of 1860, in which Article 6 determined that no Non-White, without written permission from the landdrost, had the right to occupy urban land in towns where local municipalities did not yet exist.

This letter of permission had to mention the particular urban area with the names of the persons involved. In addition, mention had to be made about the number of people, stock and any means of transport which may have been used.
Municipalities could also prohibit a larger number of Non-Whites from living in one particular area, to prevent a so-called ‘nuisance.’ In 1860, it was determined that only three urban Non- White settlements would be allowed per city or town. These settlements were the only space allowed for Non-White occupation of urban land.

The inhabitants of these settlements were subjected to paying of taxes; the so-called hut tax as well as tax on grazing rights. The government declared that wondering animals would be shot.

Up to 1870, not much was done regarding the establishment, maintenance and supervision of these urban settlements, and with the growth in the economic stability of the state, more work opportunities were created which stimulated the growth of the Non-White population in and around the urban centres. The government later saw the need for a more formal approach to urban Non-White settlement planning. By this time the towns such as Jacobsdale, Ladybrand, Bethlehem, Smithfield, Winburg had each established at least one such settlement.

In 1893, Act 8 of 1893 was introduced by government, which demanded the provision of allocated pieces of urban land for the purpose of Non-White settlement and the local municipalities were given the responsibility of providing schooling, and organizing social gatherings for the people of these settlements.

Article 2 of Act 8, determined that the local municipalities had to supply all Non-Whites over the age of 16, who were residents of a particular settlement, with a letter of occupancy which was payable per month. The letter had to make mention of all stock and other possessions owned by the individual and if the person was a permanent labourer, then the name of his or her employer had to be mentioned.

Residents of these settlements had to be employed by Whites, and if any Non-White worked for himself then he had to be in possession of a special certificate which was also payable per month. This certificate had to make mention of the nature of work and income. Non-Whites were not forced to stay in the locations; they were allowed to stay on the premises of their White employer, as in the case of most household servants.

Article 7 of the same Act, prohibited any selling of liquor, groceries, meat or other items within these settlements.
In terms of social services such as education and health matters, little was done within these settlements.

The black residential sector

In time the municipality realized that proper planning had become necessary. In March 1859, regulations for Bloemfontein were published but no mention was made of any location or any regulations regarding Non-White residents. At this time, no specific area was reserved for Black residential purposes in Bloemfontein.

Later, large common spaces were identified and reserved for Black residential development in attempt to keep it contained and under municipal control. In June 1859, a commission was appointed to investigate the possible location of an urban Black settlement which resulted in the area close to Skutkraal being proposed as a suitable location.

Skutkraal, located at the foot of Seinheuwel became the first so-called Black location of Bloemfontein. The Black population originally counted less than the number of Whites but this changed in a short space of time as Black numbers grew rapidly. This emphasized the shortage of Black residential space.

The municipality then decided to group the Blacks of different ethnicities in their own respective areas, and demarcated more than one of these so-called locations.

On 3 June 1861, the council demarcated 3 locations in the following areas; the Fingo’s and Barolong were to move to the area which lies to the right of Kaffirfontein, the Hottentots and Basters ( Coloureds) were to move to the Waaihoek Black residential area on the eastern outskirts of the town, while the Skutkraal area was retained.

From 1868, Whites were not allowed in the Black residential areas. On 22 July 1872, the City Council decided to demolish the Skutkraal area and only retain the other two areas.

In 1880, the Black population in Bloemfontein was 879 while the White population was 1688.

However, the introduction of the railways in Bloemfontein caused a huge influx of Blacks who were looking for work. The large numbers caused considerable congestion.

To establish what they considered order in the Black residential areas, the council decided in 1882 that all Black dwellings had to be built in straight lines which lay in a north-south direction. Stand numbers had to be placed on the huts while the perimeter of each site had to be indicated by stones placed on each corner. In 1882, Waaihoek and Kaffirfontein had a population of 759 and 214 respectively.

Flimsy shacks were demolished and replaced by more stable dwellings, to improve the appearance of the area, which placed a financial burden on the low-income Black residents. However, in 1897 these sites or stands did not have toilets nor were there any facilities introduced that would cater for Black women.

Between 1898 and 1900, the Kaffirfontein residential area was upgraded.

Waaihoek was the larger area, and by the end of 1900 consisted of 537 plots, most of which were built up. But soon, the Whites started complaining about the proximity of Waaihoek to the town. To add to this, the portion of Waaihoek which was considered closest to town was situated directly above a layer of sandstone which the council wanted to develop into a sandstone quarry.

It was only in 1906/7 that Black residential areas were expanded, and in 1921 Waaihoek was moved to Heatherdale, which is currently the Coloured area of Heidedal

Growth of informal settlements: Manguang township

Mangaung is one of the largest black townships in the Free State and is subdivided into the following sub-township: Batho, Botjhabela, Phahameng, Phelindaba and Kagisanong (Rocklands). The name Mangaung was only officially accepted for the black township in 1975.

The Naval Hill in Bloemfontein was once home to many leopards, so the Blacks named the area Mangaung (pronounced Mang-a-ung) which alledgedly means the place of the leopards. There is some confusion about this term however as the Basotho and Batswana people did not specifically differentiate between the leopard and the cheetah. In Sesotho lengaung, rather than Manguang denotes leopards.

The history of Manguang township

From the early days of Bloemfontein, after it was officially founded by Major HD Warden in 1846 as an outpost for Cape riflemen, Blacks and Coloureds came to town to work in the town as labourers. They were accommodated on the premises of their employers or in peripheral locations. The separate residential areas were made available to black and coloured residents at Kaffirfontein* and Waaihoek respectively.

The grammar and spelling of certain historical terms have not been changed, for example Bantu, natives and Kaffirfontein*.

Waaihoek, one of the 'non-White' residential areas of Bloemfontein, was established in 1846 on the land of a farmer who had obtained it from black people in a trade.

In 1872, Waaihoek had become the most important 'non-White' residential area and had experienced significant changes. Neat mud houses were created and cottages were nicely thatched. There was pressure from Whites in the municipality to move Waaihoek in the direction of Kaffirfontein – a common process in the phases of race segregation in South African cities. The Whites felt that the townshipwas too close to town and was a possible health risk. The Bloemfontein municipality did not move the township at this point, but rather worked to improve the living conditions in Waaihoek. Streets were widened and housing structures were properly arranged and numbered.

Bloemfontein experienced a population boom between  1890 and 1904. From the 1900 onwards, Waaihoek grew more than three times in size. The 'non-white' population increased, superseding the Whites, and Waaihoek became overcrowded. It was described as 'filthy' and 'unsightly', and sanitary conditions were unpleasant. Consequently, Whites objected to the close proximity of the township.

The portion of Waaihoek closest to the town was situated on a valuable sandstone deposit that the city council wished to lease as a quarry. A commission was established and it recommended to the city that the land in Waaihoek be expropriated and residents moved. The residents were against the relocation and protested vigorously. The revolts of 1925, beginning in Waaihoek, accelerated this removal process.

When Waaihoek was demolished, Blacks were moved to Batho and Coloureds were relocated to Heatherdale (Heidedal).In 1918 Batho become the first black township in Mangaung to be planned and it was proclaimed in 1924 under the Native (Urban Areas) Act of 1924. In 1959 the Bloemfontein City Council applied for the proclamation of Heidadal as a coloured area. This was successful, although it took four years. 

This section on Mangaung was adapted from: Abrahm, S (n.d) The history of Bloemfontein and surroundings areas 1846-1996, with special reference to the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. University of the Free State. MA Degree.

Education

White schools

Initial education requirements set in the 19th century in the Free State were not high, and it was considered adequate if a person could read and write. This perception restricted educational development in the early years of the Free State.

However, in 1895, legislation was introduced which made education compulsory. The legislation was later expanded so that all White children between the ages of 10-16 years had to attend school for at least two years.

Many children, especially those in the lower income bracket, still did not attend school and preferred to work in shops or offices. To cater for these children, a so-called Armskool was established which provided evening classes for the poorer children.

By 1899, there were 2088, we assume, White pupils in Bloemfontein, of which 456 received free education. However, the Volksraad was against the idea of a separate school for the poorer children and decided to establish the Home and Industrial School for younger boys in 1898.

In the early years of Bloemfontein, private schools played a very important role. Bearing in mind that the population was predominately English speaking, these schools were usually administered under the auspices of an English Church Society where English was used as a medium of instruction. However, the population of these private institutions faded during the Republican years that followed.

In 1854, a boarding school for boys and girls was established by P. Hoendervangers, who played an important role in the educational development of Bloemfontein. Hoendervangers also established the Free School which opened in 1858.

In 1857, an English school was opened by C Wilmot at the back of the house of M Hopkins, while Mrs. De Jongh opened a training college for young girls in the same year.

There was also the so-called Grammar School which eventually gave rise to the establishment of St. Andrew’s Diocesan College in 1874.

In the same year, an Infant School was opened by Miss Dunn on the corner of Green and Fountain Streets.

Most private schools were aimed at the refinement and education of young ladies from wealthy families.

Five other prominent government schools were also established namely; Grey College which opened on 17 January 1858, the so-called Dames Instituut or Eunice which opened on 5 June 1876, St Andrews College for Boys, St Andrews Seminar for Girls, which was known as the Home and later became known as St Michaels and the Wesleyan School which was the only school for both boys and girls in Bloemfontein.

The Green Hill Convent was opened in 1871 by the Roman Catholic Church.

Two Non-White schools were established for Non-Whites, both under the auspices of the Anglican Church. St Philips Schools was the first, which later amalgamated with the Good Shepherd School in 1895. This accommodated the Coloureds or so-called Basters and was located at the church in Waaihoek.

St Patrick School was the second school and was also located in Waaihoek. By 1896 the school building was so dilapidated that the church building had to be used.

In 1896, a small school was opened in Kaffirfontein, approximately 3,2km out of town.

In comparison to the amount of White schools opened during this time, it is clear that Black education was not a priority for the government in Bloemfontein.

Last updated : 03-Nov-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 30-Mar-2011