Polokwane the Segregated city

Contents

The Segregated City, 1910-1948

The Apartheid City

A decade of Turbulence, 1976-86

Ructions within Afrikaner Politics

Forced removals in the apartheid era

Homeland politics

The Segregated City, 1910-1948

The Segregated city includes the following articles The Segregated City, 1910 - 1948, The Apartheid City, A decade of Turbulence: 1976-86, Ructions within Afrikaner Politics, Forced removals in the apartheid era, Homeland politics

In the first general election of the Union, held on 15 September 1910, the South African Party came to power. The election saw the SAP win 68 seats, the Unionists 37, Labour 3 seats and 13 going to other parties.

General Louis Botha (1862-1919), who led the SAP with Jan Smuts, and who had been Prime Minister of the Transvaal from 1907 to 1910, became the first Prime Minister of the Union. Hendrik Mentz of the SAP won the Pietersburg seat and on 1 October was sworn in as chair of the Zoutpansberg Volksraad.

The unification of the colonies into a single entity saw a renewed effort to create a national infrastructure. In Pietersburg, the railway going north was extended after having been approved in 1909. Railways were extended to Bandolierkop via Soekmekaar; to Louis Trichardt by 1911 and Messina by 1914. The line to Rhodesia was completed in 1929.

Other types of communications were also developed. In 1910 there were about 100 telephones installed in houses and businesses. A new newspaper hit the streets, in 1912, The Northern Star & Country District’s Gazette, a weekend gazette.

The process of modernisation was increasingly apparent, and modern forms of transport were introduced. Zeederberg’s Garage and Workshop became one of the first dealers to sell and repair motor cars, also dealing in motor cycles, accessories, tyres, tubes and oils.

Modern institutions began to become part of the Union’s governing process, and following Milner’s establishment of a Transvaal Constabulary, a national police force was instituted in 1913. Pietersburg got its first constabulary under Sgt JPJ Buitendag in 1917.

The town’s activities reflected the full range of civic activities. Sport codes flourished, churches drew congregations and schools were established. Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance were staged in 1913.  In the same year, a new land show was staged, the first year remembered for excellent poultry.

A young lawyer began to have a presence in the town when the Pietersburg Rugby Football Club twice won the Wolf Krause trophy, in 1912 and 1914.  The young captain of the team, Jozua Francois Naude, better known as Tom Naude, also became the leader of the Zoutpansberg Liberty Lodge.

With tensions simmering in the SAP over the government’s decision to side with Britain, General Hertzog broke away to form the National Party.  The NP did well in the 1915 election, reflecting the discontent with the policies of Botha and Smuts among Afrikaners. The NP managed to get 27 seats, but the SAP won with 54 seats, while the Unionists got 39.

WWI and the Afrikaner Revolt
The development of the young Union was interrupted by global developments when World War I broke out in August 1914. The foreign policy of the Botha administration, in part crafted by Jan Smuts, split the Afrikaner community in two.
The government’s decision to support the English and invade German South West Africa was deeply resented by the more anti-English Afrikaners, still smarting from their defeat in the South African War.
Tom Naude organised an anti-war rally for which he was arrested and then detained in Booysens in Johannesburg.
A total of 27 people from Pietersburg died in the war. Corporal Vercuiel was awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery, while Maud Kleinenberg was given an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for service to the community during the war.

Pietersburg After WWI

With the end of the war in 1919, Pietersburg’s slow but steady growth and modernization continued. Medical and social services were extended. The Red Cross established a branch in Pietersburg in 1928. Jeanne Young set up a fund to provide the town with an ambulance, and the first ambulance, acquired in 1929, was named after her. Jenny Worms became the superintendant of the railway branch of the St Johns First Aid facility, and together with Louis Brenner founded the town’s Blood Transfusion Service. The growth of the town also brought modern forms of alienation, and Morris Weiner set up a branch of Suicides Anonymous.

Wally Levy, Leon Levy and Louis Klingman and others volunteered to put out fires before a permanent fire brigade was formed.  It was only in 1939 that Pietersburg got its first fire engine, a Chevrolet model, in a town where an average of eight fires were reported every year.

In 1932, with the help of Superintendent Dr Andrew, the new hospital introduced an Indian section after Amod Bava and the Young Men’s Muslim Society put up the cost of the facility. Presumably, the State did not see it as a duty to provide medical services for Blacks, Coloureds and Indians, and these groups had to mobilise their own resources to organise these services.

The Northern Transvaal region experienced  malaria and bilharzia epidemics in the early 1930s, and Dr C Louis Leipoldt, medical inspector for schools, disseminated material about the epidemics.

The first cinema, The Empire, was built by ES Tager’s African Theatres Ltd in Mare Street in 1925. In 1931 another “bioscope”, the Pietersburg Kinema Company, opened its doors. The cinemas screened silent movies until 1930, and in 1931 sound was introduced, with the Zoutpansberg Review featuring an article titled “Talkies for the Town Hall”.

The Jewish community had a prominent place in the town, in business as well as politics. The Zoutpanszberg Review went bankrupt in 1930, but was saved from extinction when it was taken over by Solly Marcus. His brother Louis Marcus was the mayor for 1930/31 and also chair of the Pietersburg Chamber of Commerce.

Mayors served one-year terms, although a number of them were elected to serve further terms. Marcus was succeeded by Dr Clarence Andrew in a Council where politics played a large role. Frederick van Zyl Slabbert replaced Andrews as mayor in 1932, and he was also president of the Verenigde Munisipale Raad.

A centenary celebration of the victory of the Boers over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River took place in 1938, 100 years after the event, and Afrikaner nationalist mobilisation was stepped up. A new Afrikaans newspaper, Die Noord Transvaaler was published in Pietersburg just as Die Transvaaler, under the editorship of HF Verwoerd, hit the streets of Johannesburg. The Afrikaner Broederbond also set up a branch in Pietersburg. Volkskas, the bank established to help Afrikaner farmers in 1935, opened its first Pietersburg branch in December 1939.

The National Party stepped up its election campaign, and Dr HF Verwoerd, the editor of Die Transvaaler who would become Prime Minister two decades later, visited Pietersburg. The NP gained a further seven seats in parliament in the election of 18 May 1938, but ultimately lost to the United Party.

World War II

With the outbreak of WWII conflicts within the Afrikaner community flared up once again. Hertzog and Smuts were at loggerheads, and Hertzog insisted that the Union take a neutral stance. Pietersburg residents took part in the war, and 51 of them were killed in action.

The anti-war camp was itself divided into two main tendencies: those who espoused neutrality, and those who were pro-Nazi. One representative of the latter tendency was Robey Liebbrandt, who had just returned from Germany in 1941. He held a meeting in Pietersburg, calling for the country to be freed from “British-Jewish domination”. Liebbrandt was accused of subversion and police began a hunt for him while he took refuge at a farm in Zoutpansberg. He was eventually arrested in Pretoria.

In anticipation of the election of 1943, Smuts paid a visit to Pietersburg in 1942. A reception was held for him where he was welcomed by the SA Women’s Auxilliaries, and Omar Essa, representing the Indian community.  Smuts’s United Party won the general election – for the last time. Tom Naude now stood as a National Party candidate – not the NP of General Herzog but the “Purified” National Party of DF Malan.

The main issue in the election was the different views on WWII. Many Afrikaners had opposed entry into the war on the British side, arguing that the move had been contrary to South Africa’s interests, and there was talk of the Union becoming an independent republic.

By the end of the war, Pietersburg’s white population exceeded 5000 for the first time.

Scandal in Pietersburg: Herman Charles Bosman
In March 1943, the Zoutpansberg Review came under the editorship of Herman Charles Bosman. He lasted just nine months in the job, living in a house in Hans van Rensburg Street during that time. A biography of Bosman noted: “The editorial columns of this sedate Northern Transvaal country paper were never to be the same again. Hapless farmers and businessmen, accustomed to pedestrian discussions in their paper on traffic lights, farm prices and new industries, were suddenly confronted with the peculiar lunacies of a poet in their midst.”
Bosman became embroiled in a scandal when he had an affair with a high school teacher, Helena Stegmann, who had to undergo an abortion, and he lost his job. He found Pietersburg too conservative for his tastes, and felt stifled by the small town mentality, and left.
But two of his short stories are set in Pietersburg, albeit with other names: Jacaranda in the Night, and Willemsdorp.

In anticipation of the election of 1943, Smuts paid a visit to Pietersburg in 1942. A reception was held for him where he was welcomed by the SA Women’s Auxilliaries, and Omar Essa, representing the Indian community.  Smuts’s United Party won the general election - for the last time. Tom Naude now stood as a National Party candidate - not the NP of General Herzog but the “Purified” National Party of DF Malan.

The main issue in the election was the different views on WWII. Many Afrikaners had opposed entry into the war on the British side, arguing that the move had been contrary to South Africa’s interests, and there was talk of the Union becoming an independent republic.

By the end of the war, Pietersburg’s white population exceeded 5000 for the first time.

In other developments, the Catholic congregation was for the first time presided over by an Archbishop, Frederick Osterrath, OSB, from March 1940. A clinic was opened in Voortrekker Street which dispensed free immunisation, and in 1942 a new hospital for Whites was completed, at a cost of £6,500.

The power station built in 1930 struggled to keep up with the demand for electricity, and it was revamped in 1940, with extra capacity for generating power. A new sewage system was put in place and for the first time the majority of houses could replace the outside bucket toilet with an indoor loo.

English royals King George VI and his two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, undertook an extended tour of South Africa, and visited Pietersburg. An ad-hoc committee was established to oversee preparations for the visit. The mostly Afrikaner children brandished Union Jack flags in a show of support for the Royals, indicating a friendly relation to the English. The friendly relations saw the conflict between Afrikaner and English recede as the Black-White relation more and more took centre stage in national politics.

The Apartheid City

The National Party, in coalition with the Afrikaner Party, won the 1948 election, and DF Malan was made prime minister. The NP began passing laws that would provide the architecture for the apartheid system: the Population Registration Act, the Group Areas Act, amongst others.

Pietersburg’s MP, Tom Naude of the NP, won the seat with a majority of 1835 votes. After serving in local politics for 30 years, he was appointed to Malan’s cabinet in 1950, given the portfolio for Post and Telegraphs. His brother Dap Naude served as mayor in 1947/8 and 48/9, and again in 1951. Later he was elected President of the Transvaal Municipal Society.

It would be incorrect to say that race relations in the segregation period were benign, but in the 1940s, Louis Changouin reports, Indians and Whites still played cricket together. Until 1950 the Indians and Coloureds could live in the town next door to Whites. But now a process of unscrambling the races began. The Group Areas Act of 1950 determined that separate residential areas be created to effect a rigorous separation.

A location was set aside for Blacks, who now fell under the local council as defined by the Bantu Consolidation Act. The City Council also set up a special department for Non-White affairs, passing various new statutes and implementing the pass laws. The council began to build 200 sub-economic houses for blacks and initiated a scheme for people to be able to build their own houses.

A curfew from 9pm to 4am, under Proclamation No 67 of 1931, now tightened the restrictions on the movement of Black people in the town.

The Farmers’ Union chairman AZ McComb, after their congress in the Pig and Whistle Hotel on 8 August 1948 declared: “We have given up so much land for Native occupation we are determined not to give another inch.” The Nationalist movement extended its hegemony over South Africa. The year 1949 saw celebrations by Afrikaners to mark the completion of the Voortrekker Monument. The sale of the Zoutpansberg Review to Unievolkspers saw the paper become a National Party mouthpiece.

Several years later, in 1952, a festival commemorated the 300th anniversary of Van Riebeeck’s arrival at the Cape. The year also marked the 50th anniversary of Pietersburg’s transformation into a municipality, and celebrations included the official opening of the SABC’s new broadcast facility in Pietersburg.

Dap Naude, the brother of Tom Naude, served as the head of the City Council, and was made the president of the Society of Municipal Managers – the first Pietersburg official to serve in this capacity – and he was also appointed as chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Matters of Concern in the Transvaal.

During Dap Naude’s term as mayor, Pietersburg received various prominent international visitors, including Dutch royal Prince Bernard.

An Israeli military hero, Brigadier Yigal Alon, also visited Pietersburg, in June 1956. He was the commander of the Israeli army during the war in the Middle East. Alon and his troops ejected the Arabs from the Negev Desert, and he became known in his country as the Liberator of the Negev.

A delegation of ministers and army and air force chiefs visited Pietersburg to inspect the airport, as part of a plan to convert the facility into a military airport.

Helen Suzman, representative of Houghton for the United Party, also paid a visit to Pietersburg late in 1956. Following the publication of the report of the Tomlinson Commission in 1955, the areas northwest and south of Pietersburg were declared homelands for the North Sotho. Known after 1962 as Lebowa, the Department of Bantu Administration set up an office in Pietersburg, as the main the administrative centre for the homeland.

On 11 October 1956, WWB Eiselen, held a meeting with 13 Black leaders and chiefs to discuss the possibility of establishing a college for Black students after the government bought the farm Turfloop, east of Pietersburg. In 1959 the state proclaimed that two universities would be established for Blacks, and one each for Coloureds and Indians. The University of the North opened its doors on 1 August 1959, with professor EF Potgieter as the first rector. The NG Kerk established a school of theology in the same year, and a branch was established at Turfloop.

Marabastad was renamed Eerstegoud in 1956, based on an historical inaccuracy, since gold was first found on the farm Eersteling, and the name change proved to be unpopular with the older generation.

During 1956 there was a flood after 308mm of rain fell in 24 hours. Drought lasted five to seven years around this time.

The mayor of the town in 1959, ASD Erasmus, the son of Commandant ASD Erasmus, was the first mayor to have been born in Pietersburg.

The 1958 election held on 16 April saw Tom Naude retain his seat with a majoriy of 2804 votes. The death of Prime Minister JG Strijdom in September of the same year saw HF Verwoerd acceding to the position.

Pietersburg’s head of the provincial Council, Piet Hugo, was appointed to head the Senate. FJ Niemand was chosen to replace him in the council.

Pietersburg saw its first female mayor installed in 1959, ME (Lien) Grimm. Together with Tom Naude, Grimm received British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan when he visited the town, after he made his famous “Winds of Change” speech in parliament in Cape Town. MacMillan also visited the University of the North.

The Marais Commission presented its report in 1960, and Ordinance 40 of 1960 spelt out the new regulations regarding the functions of city councils.

The White population in 1961 now exceeded 11000, and there were 8000 motor vehicles registered in the town.
In March 1960 Tom Naude retired from active politics, and in January 1961 he became the head of the Senate after becoming a senator in December 1960.

On 5 October 1960 the white electorate voted in a referendum to decide whether South Africa should remain a part of the Commonwealth or become a republic. The Republicans won, with 850 458 voting for the motion, and 775 878 against. In Pieterburg 6925 voted for Republican status (89%) and 2349 against.

The Rapportryers of Pietersburg, a cultural organisation, were active in these years, but it was the Junior Rapportryers who made history when they had a Black guest speaker at their function in 1965. Sociologist DE Mabudafhasi, of the University of the North, delivered a lecture on cultural differences between Whites and Blacks, and received the longest ovation ever in the history of the organisation’s functions. Organised by Burger Lategan, the function made headlines in the local papers.

The general election of 1966 saw the National Party secure its largest victory yet. It garnered 120 of 170 seats, and Dupel Erasmus became the MP for Pietersburg. Danie Hough became the youngest leader of the Provincial government.

On 6 September 1966 Dr Verwoerd was murdered, and Minister of Justice BJ Vorster was chosen to become the new Prime Minister. State President CR Swart resigned in 1967 and TR Donges was made State President. Tom Naude became Acting State President when Donges died in May 1967, serving until JJ Fouche became the new State President on 10 April 1968. Naude was awarded a doctorate from the University of Pretoria in March 1967.

Tom Naude’s death in 1969, on Republic Day (31 May) shocked Pietersburg. A state funeral followed on 4 June, the largest funeral in the town. SA Air Force planes flew in formation and military bands marched in street processions.

On 26 November 1969, Major JP Brits of the air force crashed his Sabre airplane into a veld when he began having engine trouble. A street in Annadale was later renamed after him.

When Ian Smith declared UDI (a unilateral declaration of independence) in 1967 Pietersburg felt some of the effects: many people left Rhodesia and made their way to South Africa. West of Pietersburg, Botswana was granted independence.

The University of the North, a full-fledged university in 1970, began to see radical student activity when the Black Consciousness Movement was born in its student hostel.

In the 1970 general election the NP was returned to power but with a reduced majority. Dupel Erasmus held his seat in parliament, as did Daan Hough in the Provincial parliament. New sports clubs came into being, and volleyball, karate, judo and other sports were thriving.

Pietersburg, according to Changuoin, was bursting at the seams. In the 14 years from 1960, the population doubled. Whites now numbered 22000 while the population of  Indians and Coloureds stood at 3000.

In 1973 a Committee was established to represent Indians. They first convened on 28 February 1973, with Essa as chairman.

The 1974 general election saw the NP secure its largest victory yet. Dupel Erasmus kept his seat, but he was later replaced by right-winger Willie Snyman.

Danie Hough served as mayor in 1974, and he was succeeded by Burger “Tjol” Lategan the next year. Lategan established a Junior Council to educate local White youth about the intricacies of council politics.

State President Nico Diederichs, who had succeeded Jim Fouche, visited Pietersburg in 1975, making a speech at the Chamber of Commerce, which celebrated its 80th anniversary.

Late in 1975 South Africans watched as the first ever TV broadcast was made, and for some weeks the streets of Pietersburg were silent from 7pm to 9pm.

Growth and the Development of Infrastructure during the Apartheid Period
The National Party’s accession to power saw a general attempt to accelerate the modernisation of the town that had been underway since the turn of the century. The town grew in population, size and resources. Modern infrastructure was put in place and modernist buildings began to emerge, as well as civic and civil institutions that brought the town into the 20th century.
Several developments reflect the growth of the town and its population. In about 10 years from 1945-1955 the White population doubled to 8000 of a total of 20500 residents. In 1955 the birth rate exceeded 1000 for the first time: 672 Blacks, 341 Whites, 33 Indians and 16 Coloureds were born. With a death rate of 250 for the same year (190 Blacks, 49 Whites, six Indians and five Coloureds) a net gain of about 750 people a year meant that the population was growing at an unprecedented rate.
In December 1946 land surveyor Manaschewitz laid out 396 residential plots northeast of the town as Ext 4, later renamed Moregloed. In March 1948 Manaschewitz laid out another 67 plots for Ext 3.
In 1950 the Council upgraded the library, used exclusively by Whites, and which had always been privately funded. Started by Phyllis Edlin in 1905, it now fell under the Transvaal Provincial Library Services.
In the mid-1950s, Pietersburg had two cinemas, one each for English and Afrikaans speakers. The Pietersburg Theatre Group staged Bonaventure, a huge success in the town.
The new offices of the Provincial Administration were opened by the head of the Provincial Council, Piet Hugo. A new hospital opened in 1960, with a laboratory run by the SA Institute of Medical Research. The local branch became the headquarters of the Institute for the Northern Transvaal, and was headed by a medic who grew up in Pietersburg, Dr Alberts, who also headed the blood bank.
An old age home was established in 1958, organised by the Rotary Club, which collected funds for the project. The Department of Community Development matched Rotary’s donation, putting up half the cost.
Insurance giant Sanlam put up a five-storey building on the corner of Landdros Mare and Grobler streets, establishing its North Transvaal headquarters.
A new post office was erected in Landdros Mare street, and Tom Naude presided over the opening ceremony. The Transvaal Landbou Unie merged with the Waterberg Landbou.
The swimming pool in Church Square was closed in 1961 and a new Olympic sized pool was built in Voortrekker Park. A new set of tennis courts was put up.
Six new extensions sprang up in the 1960s; Industria, Annadale, Laboria, Futura and Ladine. Capricorn came into being in 1965, and Eduan Park in 1967, the name being Naude spelt backwards.
A new building was erected for the Department of Non-White Affairs, and a new Civic Centre, which cost the taxpayer R334 484, became the occasion for celebrations when it was opened on 2 November 1963. The new State President, CR Swart, was the guest of honour, while the MP for Pietersburg, Piet Niemand presided over the affair.
The Department of Bantu Administration and Development in 1963 set aside land to establish a Black township, Moletse, in order to resettle the people of New Pietersburg.
A Scottish society, active for many years, formed the Pietersburg and District Caledonian Society in June 1963.
The new public library was opened in Grobler Street in November 1969, built at a cost of R211000. A new fire station went up, at a cost of R166500.
Federale Volksbelgings bought land and put up a hotel complex that later became the Holiday Inn.
In 1966 Pietersburg installed the first 130 parking meters on Landdros Mare Street.
New extensions arose especially towards the east of the town.  Welgelegen emerged near Eduan Park, developed by property developers Nasionale Bouvereeniging (Saambou Nasionaal), and was proclaimed in 1972. The next year another suburb emerged next to Welgelegen, named Bendor. In 1973 Penina Park emerged, and was named after a little town in Portugal. In 1974 Flora Park, Fauna Park and Sterpark emerged, the largest extension to be added to the town, with land set aside for six schools, and 24 parks.
West of the town Ivydale and Sterkloop emerged, proclaimed in 1976. Welgelen Extension 4 was developed in 1978.
An industrial area provided jobs for 850 Whites and 5400 Blacks. A manufacturer of buses also operated in the 1970s. A silicon producer provided jobs for 600 people.
The Indians in the town were moved to a Group Area in 1967. Called Nirvana, it was proclaimed in November 1973. It included land set aside for 346 houses, two schools, two parks, 20 business premises, and one mosque.
The road north was extended in 1974, going to Rutenga, in then, Rhodesia.
There was a sharp rise in deaths from motor car accidents. During 1975 there were 550 accidents, with a death toll of 111.
Pietersburg’s post office was the largest in the Northern Transvaal, and 7000 telephones were connected to the exchange in 1976.
The SABC built a new modern studio in the mid-70s, and radio stations began to cater for the Northern Sotho, Venda and Tsonga people of the area.
A water shortage became increasingly apparent. In 1952 Pietersburg used more than 1 million kl of water for the first time. A new dam began to be built in 1956, at a cost of about £800 000. It was completed in 1958 and opened by Minister of Water Affairs Paul Sauer, with Minister Tom Naude also present. The dam was named after Dap Naude, the brother of Tom Naude, who had also taken an active part in local politics. 

A decade of Turbulence, 1976-86

The unrest in Soweto in June 1976 also had its effects in Pietersburg. Many Black parents sent their children to attend schools in the area as schooling in the township had more or less ground to a halt in the aftermath of the crisis.
Unrest at Turfloop also had a direct bearing on the economy of Pietersburg. In 1976 alone the university spent about R24-million in Pietersburg, buying goods and services. With a large staff complement, 90% of whom were residents of Pietersburg and who together earned about R3-million in salaries, the town was a natural choice for shopping trips. The 1900 students also spent much of their money in the town.

When the Department of Planning released a report on National Physical development, Pietersburg was named as the most important hub in the North Transvaal.

The new mayor in 1976, PJ Schalkwyk, played host to the Minister of Defence, PW Botha, when he visited the town on 19 October. Schalkwyk also received the Israeli ambassador in August, and William G Bowdler, the American ambassador, on 16 November.

SA was involved in a covert war with Swapo forces in South West Africa, and the Christiaan Beyers Regiment of Pietersburg was involved in a clash with the guerrillas, during which four soldiers were killed.

In the general election of 1977, the NP won 53,3% of the vote, and the Progressive Federal Party became the official opposition, with 17 seats. The HNP secured 3,3% of the vote but failed to gain a seat. In Pietersburg, Willie Snyman and Danie Hough retained their seats.

March 1977 saw the Pietersburg District Development Society convene a conference to make plans for the future of the town, with issues such as Black-White relations, industry, physical planning, and agriculture on the agenda.

Under the guiding hand of Jack Botes, the outcome was a document, the “Pietersburg Development Plan 2000”.

In November of the same year, the Northern Transvaal Development Committee held a conference to consider the future of the entire northern region, again under the chair of Jack Botes. The Minister of Planning and Environment, Dr Schalk van der Merwe, made the opening speech.

Ructions within Afrikaner Politics

The Information Scandal precipitated a shift in Nationalist Party politics. The attempt to polish the image of South Africa saw Eschel Rhoodie spend millions from a secret fund that was eventually audited and caused the downfall of John Vorster. Connie Mulder, the Minister of Information, lied to parliament when he said his department had nothing to do with the Citizen newspaper. By September 1978 Vorster resigned, and Mulder, his natural successor, was too tainted with scandal to effectively make a challenge to become prime minister.

In a vote to decide the new leader, Mulder got 74 votes, with 98 for PW Botha, who became the new prime minister. Botha forced Mulder, the leader of the party in the Transvaal, to resign, and ejected him from the Cabinet. Mulder was eventually forced out of parliament and then the party itself. Andries Treurnicht, the Deputy Minister of Bantu Education at the time of the June 76 uprising, became the party’s Transvaal leader – but not for long.

Botha’s rule came at a time when resistance to apartheid was intensifying, the economy entered into a slump, sanctions were beginning to bite, foreign capital was withdrawing and big business was calling for a relaxation of apartheid laws, which it saw as necessary if the economy was to prosper.

Botha and his inner circle devised a “Total Strategy’ to restructure the political landscape. He wanted to accelerate the development of a Black middle class that would turn away from the revolutionary path. By 1986, he abolished elements of petty apartheid, as well as the Mixed Marriages Act and the Pass laws.

In an attempt to win over the Indian and Coloured sections of the population, and wean them away from African nationalist activity, he initiated the process of rewriting the constitution and installing a tricameral parliament.

But the NP began to lose the votes of those Afrikaners who clung to Verwoerdian ideology, and the resistance of the far-right within the NP split the party. Dr Andries Treurnicht, Minister of State Administration, appealed to blue-collar workers, public servants and farmers to oppose the constitutional reforms, and he had particularly strong support in the Northern Transvaal, in Nigel and Pietersburg.

In 1980 PW Botha introduced the Expropriation of Land Act, which allowed the government to buy land from White farmers and use it to enlarge the homelands. Whites reacted with rage, and Black people were attacked and their livestock killed. It fed into the drift to the right.

In February 1983, after 22 NP MPs abstained or voted against Botha’s power sharing proposals, Botha issued an ultimatum: “support me or quit the party.” Sixteen quit, and under Treurnicht, who quit his cabinet post, broke away and within a month formed the Conservative Party. Connie Mulder and Ferdie Hertzenburg crossed over to join the Conservatives.

The government, meanwhile, pushed the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act through parliament on 31 August 1983, and called for a referendum on the issue. On 2 November 1983 white South Africans went to the polls, to answer the question: “Are you in favour of the implementation of the new constitution as approved by parliament?”
Whites turned out in their droves to vote on the most contentious issue since the 1961 referendum on republicanism, with 76% of registered voters turning out. Most voted for the new constitution (66%, or 1360223 for; 33%, or 691557 against).

However, a swing to the right soon became evident. In the general election of May 1987, the Progressive Federal Party was overtaken by the Conservative Party, which succeeded in becoming the official opposition.

The Pietersburg electorate was generally conservative, and while the National Party had support, the Conservative Party was viewed by many in a sympathetic light.

By 1989, the reform of the apartheid system was underway, and on 11 February Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison. The ANC, SACP, PAC and Black Consciousness organisations were all unbanned. On 28 February 1992, there took place what FW de Klerk termed “the last exclusively white referendum”, in which voters were asked “Do you support the continuation of the reform which the State President began on 2 February 1990 and which is aimed at a new constitution through negotiation?”

The Pietersburg district was one of a total of 15 referendum districts in the country, and only 43% of the voters supported the reform process (37612 votes). The majority (49720 voters) voted against the negotiated settlement that the NP had embarked upon.

Afrikaner Nationalist Commemorations
Since the groundbreaking book edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, titled The Invention of Tradition, historians have focused on the manner in which social blocs or the state construct bodies of knowledge which serve particular interests by presenting this as a universal viewpoint.
More recently, especially after 1994, the question of memory has emerged, with theorists examining the manner in which heritage projects select particular events and interpretations and present these as truthful accounts of the past.
Of course, these are always contested. For every version of an event, the possibility of a counter memory is always inherent in the event itself. Each version nevertheless presents its point of view in opposition to an other, which in the most effective accounts will remain invisible and unspoken.
The Apartheid State, and indeed Afrikaner intellectuals in the period after the South African War, fully understood this phenomenon (see box on The Afrikaner Movement). They understood the efficacy of mobilising the ordinary Afrikaner, and securing his or her support for the overall project of constituting an Afrikaner hegemony. Thus the frequency of commemorative events in South Africa, and in Pietersburg, these larger than life events stand out against the routine of everyday life.
The year 1938 was marked as the centenary of the victory of the Boers over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River.  The Boers believed, or their intellectual leaders sought to have ordinary Afrikaners believe, that the victory was ordained by God. The Boers made a vow before the actual battle, in which they committed themselves to commemorate the day forever after should they achieve victory, and indeed, they have set aside 16 December as the Day of the Covenant ever since.
In 1888, President Paul Kruger held discussions about the construction of a monument in honour of the Voortrekkers and their conquest of the north, and in 1931 the Sentrale Volksmonumentekommitee (Central People’s Monuments Committee) was formed to realise the monument. A sod-turning ceremony on 13 July kicked off the process, and construction began, the monument being completed in time for the inauguration on 16 December 1949.
The commemoration of 1938 saw a symbolic ox wagon trek beginning in Cape Town and ending at Monument Hill, where the foundation stone had been laid. A lantern was lit and 11 years later placed in the Cenotaph of the newly completed Voortrekker Monument. Thus the year 1949 saw celebrations to mark the completion of the monument. The Afrikaans Taal en Kultuurvereeniging (Afrikaner Language and Culture Society) took an active part in the proceedings.
The planning of the monument coincided with the intense process of mobilisation that took place in the 1930s up to the coming to power of the Nationalist Party in 1948, and culminates in the completion of the monument just more than a year after the NP took the reins of government. The timing and the process can be seen to be more than mere symbolic activity, with real effects in the political arena, in wooing voters, in fostering the mindset that shifted sympathy from the united Party to the NP.
Three years later, in 1952, a nationwide festival commemorated the 300th anniversary of Van Riebeeck’s arrival at the Cape. The year also marked the 50th anniversary of Pietersburg’s transformation into a municipality, and celebrations in the country and the town were spread out over an extended period. In Pietersburg, a symphony concert was staged, among other activities, and the SABC opened its local studio.
Just four years later, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the town in 1956 saw attempts to plan a monument in honour of Piet Joubert. The Pietersburg Skakel Kommitee vir Afrikaanse Organisasie met with the town council to realise the project. Jack Botes, the town clerk, was active on the issue. But these plans seem to have come to nothing.
South Africa in 1960 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Union, and Pietersburg appointed a committee to organise the celebrations, headed by Mayor Grimm. The festivities took place from 14th to 30th April.
A procession from Messina and Pretoria arrived in Pietersburg on 14th April, and celebrations took place at Union Park near the airport, south of the city centre. A photographic exhibition was held, and a play titled Verkiesing Sonder Politiek (Election beyond politics) was staged, belying the political nature of the event. The climax came on 30th April at a large gathering, the largest yet in Pietersburg, where chidren performed short dramas, and speeches were delivered by Tom Naude, Mayor Grimm, and Dr Wim Nicol.
In 1961, Pietersburg’s white residents celebrated the coming of the Republic at the High School, where 4000 schoolchildren participated in a mass optog (procession). A hundred doves were released from their cages, and the children put on gymnastics show. General RC Hiemstra delivered the main address.
A decision was made by the Pietersburg Doornkraal Gelofteskomitee to erect a new monument after the 1882 monument was no longer publicly accessible since it was situated on private property. The new monument was unveiled on Geloftedag in 1961 by the 88-year-old Gertruida Aletta Maria Snyman, the granddaughter of a Voortrekker pioneer. An addition was made to the monument on 16 December 1963, necessitating further gatherings.
A new herald was designed. The new herald reflected the industrialisation of the town, and an economic boom ensued over the next 10 years.
Tom Naude’s death in 1969, on Republic Day (31 May) shocked Pietersburg. A state funeral followed on 4 June, the largest funeral in the town. SA Air Force planes flew in formation and military bands marched in street processions.
The 10-year anniversary of the Republic was yet another occasion for state-organised festivities. As part of the celebrations the Municipal Nature reserve, where Tom Naude was buried, officially opened on 30 April 1971. A military parade, residents and 3000 schoolchildren all graced the occasion, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hilgardt Muller addressed the crowds.
In 1971 the Pietersburg Skakelkommitee, the SA Raad vir Oorlogsgrafte and the Raad vir Nasionale Gedenwaardighede submitted a proposal to erect a monument in memory of the people who died in the concentration camps during the South African War, reminding Afrikaners of their suffering at the hands of the British Empire.
The Historiese Genootskap van Suid Afrika held their annual meeting in September 1972. The Histosiese Komitee of the Pietersburg Skakelkomitee under High School teacher Sarel Lee also held a two day conference in 1972, to discuss the erection of a monument in Kalkbank and a visit to Makapans Cave. Teachers from nearby schools attended the conference, as did historians FA van Jaarsveld, JJ van Tonder and Professor FJ du Toit Spies.
The Kernkomitee from the Generaal Piet Joubert Monumentfonds convened for the first time on 15 February 1973. Jack Botes played a leading role in raising funds for the project. The Junior Rapportryers raised R500. There was controversy over the cost of the statue, and local newspapers fuelled the scepticism.
The Historiese Komitee also held a function in 1973 at which the Stigtung Simon van der Stel’s Dr WHJ Punt delivered readings on the subject of Louis Trichardt’s routes during the Great Trek.
The Skakelkomitee mounted a Langenhoven festival in 1973, to commemorate the life of the poet a hundred years after his birth. Held in the hall of the Hoer Tegniese Skool Tom Naude, schoolchildren took an active part in the proceedings, singing and delivering speeches.
The 100-year celebration
The Pietersburg council marked the centenary of White settlement with a series of celebratory events. Organised by the Pietersburg Afrikaanse Skakelkommittee, Louis Changuion was commissioned by the Council to write a book, Pietersburg, Die Eerste Eiu, 1886-1986, which was published in 1986. The Pietersburg Museum was also established and mounted an exhibition.
President PW Botha travelled to the town and unveiled a statue of Tom Naude on 15 April 1986. Naude was the most senior NP politician from the area, having served in the cabinet as Minister of Posts and Telegraph and later Finance, and as acting State President for one year.
On 22 November 1986, a statue of General Piet Joubert was finally unveiled by the Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan. Both were leaders of their respective defence forces, and Malan’s commemoration of Joubert was an example of the use of history to legitimise the apartheid government of the late 1980s at a time when the state was facing an onslaught by anti-apartheid forces.
Throughout the century, these commemorations constituted consistent attempts to bolster the unity of the volk, to create continuity between the trekkers and the holders of political power 100 years later.

Forced removals in the apartheid era

By 1966, the construction of housing in all South African townships had been frozen, except to advance forced removals and resituating populations. Influx controls were deployed in a brutal and rigorous manner. The so-called “black spots” – land acquired before 1936 outside of scheduled areas and often owned by proxy – were destroyed; its inhabitants moved into homelands or segregated townships.

In the Pietersburg area, the Department of Bantu Administration began moving blacks into a new township, Moletsi, in 1966.  Others were moved to Seshego. Indians and Coloureds were moved out of the city centre and into Group Areas, the former to Nirvana and the latter to Westernburg.

The Coloured population was moved to Westernburg in 1965, west of Sterkloop. Land was set aside for 424 houses, 16 industrial units, two churches, one school and six business premises. It was proclaimed in 1977.

Cosmas Desmond writes that according to the Minister of Bantu Adminstration, there were four black townships in the Pietersburg area: Mankweng, Moletsi, Nanedi, and Sebayang (Solomondale). “Mankweng appears to be simply an extension of the existing township of Turfloop, Moletse is a proper township five miles outside Pietersburg and is planned for 9000 houses; Solomondale is half a ‘closer settlement’ and half a quasi-township, Nanedi is just a ‘closer settlement’.

According to Desmond, people began settling in Moletse in May 1967 and by May 1969 there were 3000 houses. Most of the people came from New Pietersburg and Pietersburg’s old location.

New Pietersburg, situated 6km outside the city centre along today’s Mandela Street, was considered the “Sophiatown of the Northern Transvaal”. The suburb was a mixed suburb where blacks and Coloureds lived side by side.  Residents attended the Assemblies of God Church of Kanana, with the school children attending the St Joseph Catholic School, which was demolished when the residents were forcefully removed after the implementation of the Group Areas Act.

Nanedi

Nanedi, according to a speech by the Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Development in the House of Assembly on 4 May 1965, was planned for 600 families, but in the mid-1960s, it housed 90-odd families, 69 of whom came from Palmietfontein on 8 January 1962, the remainder coming from White farms.

Solomondale

On 8 January 1962, 200 families from Palmietfontein were moved to Solomodale, situated 36km east of Pietersburg, about 250 families had been living on a farm owned by a Mr Brenner, Palmietfontein, some 20km from Solomondale. Some of the families had been there for 100 years. Brenner received a letter from the Bantu Affairs Commissioner dated 30 November 1961, requesting him to give notice to “illegal squatters” on his property to leave the farm by the end of the year. The tenants were given the choice to move to Solomondale or Nanedi or to work on White farms.  Although they had built a school, a dam and other facilities they were not compensated.

The targeted families were moved by the government on trucks. They were allowed two head of cattle each but no goats or sheep. They arrived in Solomondale to find one or two tents allocated to each family. The families had to buy their half-acre plots for R88 and had to pay R10 a year to the local chief.

Another section of Solomondale had one-roomed 4 metre square asbestos “houses”. Most of the people in this section had been moved from New Pietersburg. They had to pay a rent of R1.55 a month.

The removal of Missions

Rodewal Mission was founded in 1874. The mission sold part of its land to tenants for R8 per family in 1912. The mission retained 1700 morgen on which about 80 families lived as tenants. Declared a “black spot”, the inhabitants were told in 1961 that they had to move. Most of the people went to Nooitgedacht, an agricultural settlement about 36km north-east of Pietersburg, while 14 families moved to Solomondale.

The Roodepoort Lutheran Mission, about 13km south of Pietersburg, was founded in 1906, and had 200 Black families living on the property as tenants. Declared a “black spot”, the people were told they had to move. Some went to Moletse township, some to join relatives elsewhere, and others to villages with Lutheran congregations.
In 1972, 161 families were moved from a mission in Botsabelo near Middelburg, to Motatema in Sekhukhuneland. They had been warned of the move, and complained that they were not allowed to take their livestock with them.

Rural Surrounds

Many Black areas surrounding Pietersburg were new creations of the apartheid machine. But there were many established settlements in the rural areas dotted around the town, and many regions had an impact on Pietersburg, including some quite distant from the town. These include Zoutpansberg to the north, Sekhukhuneland to the south-west, Waterberg to the west, and Turfloop, Tzaneen and others to the east.

The betterment schemes during the segregation period were a precursor to the homelands system, and exerted a major impact on the rural areas.

Cosmas Desmond reports that about 50 families in Kalkspruit, about 33km west of Pietersburg, were removed to three villages after the area was declared a grazing area. They were moved to the village of Kalkspruit, Wasbank, and Christiana, the latter about 9km away from Kalkspruit.

Homeland politics

Pietersburg lay at a point close to three homelands – Venda, Gazankulu and Lebowa. But it is Lebowa that is closest to the city. Until the mid-1970s, the territories of the homelands had not been conclusively defined, and the government was buying up White land in order to transfer these tracts to the homelands, at the same time transferring “black spots” to South African territory.

The homeland leaders were constantly agitating for more land, pressuring the government as well as entering into disputes with each other. Lebowa entered into territorial disputes with both Kangwane and Gazankulu.

The question of giving each supposed ethnic group its own territory also posed problems. In 1972, for example, government was considering the creation of a homeland for the South Ndebele, and considered assigning two pieces of land allotted to Lebowa, east and west of Grobblersdal.

The minister in 1972 also “indicated that plans for the Tswana and Swazi groups (and possibly BasothoQwaqwa) would be announced later” (SAIRR Survey 1973).

Gazankulu and Venda

Gazankulu was granted self-governing status in 1973. Ruled by Shangaan cultural chauvinist Hudson Ntsanwisi, the economy was nonexistent, with less than 16000 people in paid employment in 1978. Of these, 15% were hired by the administration.

Venda was the northernmost homeland, stretching from the Zimbabwe border east of Messina to the border of one of the Lebowa areas. Its capital was Makwarela, outside Sibasa.

Lebowa

As with the other homelands, Lebowa is a discontinuous territory, and is made up of two large land masses and three smaller ones. The two larger regions are situated to the northwest of Pietersburg and to the south extending southeast. The Sekhukhuneland area falls into the southern area of Lebowa, while Seshego falls into the northwest section.

The Lebowa Territorial Authority, incorporating Sekhukhuneland, was established in 1962, and Lebowa was declared a self-governing territory in October 1972, with Seshego, north of Pietersburg, as the capital. There seems to have been some confusion about the capital, as the planned capital was to be situated 30km south of Pietersburg in Chuniespoort, on the Middeburg road, and called Lebowakgomo. But it seems Seshego was the de facto capital for most of the homeland’s existence.

The “country’s” legislative assembly, meant to become active in 1973, consisted of 100 members, representing 15 districts. Elections were held in April 1973, although no political parties had been formed. Forty of the members were elected by the public through polls. One of the members was the representative of the “Rain Queen”, chieftainess of the Bolabedu, while the remaining 59 chiefs were nominated by regional authorities.

Chief Kgosi Matlala had been groomed to become the chief minister, but it was Cedric Phatudi who eventually took the reins of power.  The first session of the assembly was held in May, and Phatudi was chosen as Chief Minister after he won 45 seats to Matlala’s 40. Collins Ramusi was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of the Interior.

On 8 June 1973 Matlala announced in the assembly that he had formed the Lebowa National Party, after which Phatudi formed the Lebowa People’s Party (LPP).

Phatudi’s reign was challenged by Collins Ramusi, who sought to limit the power of the chiefs. The chiefs consequently put pressure on Phatudi to expel Ramusi, and the LPP split into two factions, pro-Phatudi and pro-Ramusi.

In the first year of the legislative Assembly, the representatives demanded more land, including the White towns of Pietersburg, Potgietersrus, Lydenburg, Middelburg, Marble Hall, Phalaborwa, Tzaneen, Belfast, Grobblersdal, Burgersfort, Witbank, and Mooketsi.

The Minister of Bantu Administration, however, speaking in the House of Assembly, said it would be impossible to declare a White town like Pietersburg Black: he argued that in terms of municipal valuations alone this would cost more than R100-million.

Many in the legislature were against formal independence, and managed to avert it throughout the existence of the homeland. But the bureaucracy grew, and money was channeled to it from the South African government. Corruption and political patronage became rife.

The Lebowa government was given power to appoint and dismiss chiefs, but the administration was careful not to interfere with the Pedi paramountcy, which was itself in disarray. Acting Paramount Mankopodi’s decision to accept Bantu Authorities caused widespread dismay, and her refusal to accept the advice of senior councillors made her unpopular.

The Bakgomana decided to have her replaced by her son Rhyne, but she refused to abdicate, and Rhyne, finding himself in the intolerable middle, decided to withdraw from the dispute by making himself unavailable for the position The Bakgomana responded by sending Mankopodi to her village, Manganeng, in September 1975, and decided to install Keneth Kgagudi Sekhukhune.

Violence erupted at Mohlaletse on the nights of 21 and 22 February 1976, when huts belonging to supporters of Mankopodi were burnt to the ground, their owners fleeing from the area. Kenneth Sekhukhune was installed in August as Acting Chief, and the relationship between Phatudi and Mohlaletse sunk to an all-time low.

When the Transkei was granted independence, there was concern that Phatudi would seek the same status for Lebowa. And there was also suspicion that Sekhukhuneland was being given the short end of the stick – critics alleged that Lebowa’s resources were being monopolized by elite in the north, based in the Mphahlele chiefdom. The area was situated near the capital, Lebowakgomo, where Phatudi spent his childhood.

Phatudi faced a challenge from Godfrey Sekhukhune in 1977 when four MPs from Sekhukhuneland split from the Lebowa Peoples Party to form the Black Peoples Party. In an election with a relatively high turnout, especially in Sekhukhuneland, the BPP were four votes short of toppling the LPP. The errant MPs soon returned to the LPP fold, afraid that their resources would be cut off.

In 1982, Mankopodi’s son Rhyne reasserted his right to accede to the paramountcy, and a campaign to have him installed began. The campaign was blocked, until the death of Phatudi in 1987. Nelson Ramatlodi now assumed the leadership of the homeland, and this led to a chain of events that saw Rhyne installed as the paramount in 1989.

Turfloop: University of the North

In 1959, as part of its policy of separate facilities for the different “races”, made law with the Extension of University Education Act of 1959, the state proclaimed that two universities would be established for Blacks, and one each for Coloureds and Indians.

Earlier, the farm at Turfloop, east of Pietersburg, had been bought by the government in 1956, and on 11 October of the same year WWB Eiselen held a meeting with 13 Black leaders and chiefs to discuss the possibility of establishing a college for Black students.

The college opened its doors on 1 August 1959, with Professor EF Potgieter as the first rector. The NG Kerk established a school of theology, and a branch was established at Turfloop.

The college was situated in an area dotted with villages, known by locals as Mankweng, although its official designation was Sovengo – an acronym stringing together the names of the three groups assigned to the area (the Sotho, Venda and Tsonga).

When British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan visited Pietersburg, after making his famous “Winds of Change” speech in parliament in Cape Town, he also visited the University of the North.

Even before the institution became a full-fledged university in 1970, it began to see radical student activity. But the administration reacted, and towards the end of 1968, the University Christian Movement was banned from the Turfloop, Fort Hare, Nogoye and University of the Western Cape.

 The Black Consciousness Movement, in the making from around 1967, when Steve Biko and his peers were beginning to turn away from Nusas.  The first BC organisation, the South African Students Organisation held its inaugural conference at Turfloop in July 1969. It adopted a constitution and elected office bearers, with Steve Biko as president. Other elected members included Barney Pityana, Harry Nengwekhulu, Hendrick Musi, Petrus Machaka, Manana Kgware, Aubrey Mokoape, J Goolam and Strini Moodley.

On 29 April 1972, Okgopotse Tiro delivered a scathing speech at the graduation ceremony, lambasting apartheid and the Bantu Education Act in the presence of White officials from the university. Tiro also pointed to the seating arrangements at the ceremony, saying it reflected the power structure of the country, where white officials were honoured with front row seats while the parents of graduates stood at the back of the hall.

Tiro was expelled, setting off a string of protests on campuses throughout the country. By June all the major Black campuses embarked on solidarity strikes.

Following the downfall of the dictator Marcello Caetano in Portugal in April 1974, the independence of Mozambique, Angola and other Portuguese colonies became imminent. Saso announced in September that it would hold “Freedom Rallies” on various campuses, beginning with Durban. On 24 September Justice Minister Jimmy Kruger announced that he had banned the rallies, but the students went ahead, holding a rally at Curries Fountain in Durban. At Turfloop, the students had put up banners in anticipation of a rally, but police broke up the gathering. But police withdrew after interventions from the SRC, the staff association and university officials. Some White lecturers driving onto the campus were harassed after making racist remarks. For two weeks after 27 September, the university remained closed, while police conducted raids on BC activists, detaining many. Thirteen activists were eventually charged under the Terrorism Act, resulting in the Saso Nine Trial.

When the Soweto uprising took place on 16 June 1976, there was unrest at Turfloop. According to Changuion, these events had a direct bearing on the economy of Pietersburg. In 1976 alone the university spent about R24-million in Pietersburg, buying goods and services. With a large staff complement, 90% of whom were residents of Pietersburg and who together earned about R3-million in salaries; the town was a natural choice for shopping trips. The 1900 students also spent much of their money in the town.

In the early 1980s, the Azanian Students Organistion (Azaso) adopted the Freedom Charter, cut ties with the Black Consciousness Movement, and took control of the SRC. The resources that became available to Azaso were used to support a whole new wave of activists and organisations in the surrounding region, and the campus came to be called “Lusaka”, after the capital of Zambia, where the ANC had its headquarters.

By most accounts the university became a centre of organisation for Congress as well as other activists. The layout and architecture allowed them to hold meetings and move to other buildings if a police presence was detected. The availability of telephones, photocopy machines and other facilities also gave the activists resources they would never otherwise have had access to.

The university had produced a string of just such activists, many of whom went on to play significant roles in national politics. Some of these include Cyril Ramaphosa, Mosiuo “Terror” Lekota, and Frank Chikane, among others.

With the coming of democracy, the university suffered a decline in the rate of student enrolment. But attempts at renewal included its merger with other facilities, including the Medical University of SA (Medunsa), based outside Pretoria.

The Zion Christian Church

An institution that has a presence throughout South Africa and which is based in Moria, some 35km east of Pietersburg, is the powerful Zion Christian Church (ZCC). Founded in 1910 by Bishop Engenas Lekganyane, the church has a massive following, and some 4-million people converge on Moria every year at Easter.

Speaking to congregants at their gathering at Easter in 1992, Nelson Mandela said:

“The ZCC is part of that rich tapestry of experience, culture and life style that make up all our people today. Both as a church and as individual members, you have lent your efforts to bring justice to our land. We applaud in particular your role in the trade union movement in pursuance of workers' rights. The struggles of our people for land and against apartheid-inspired land robbery - the forced removals - would be poorer were it not for the contribution of congregants of this church. We acclaim also the role played by ZCC business people, who in the teeth of the discriminatory policies of the Pretoria government ran successful enterprises providing jobs and trade in far-flung villages.

Last updated : 21-Jun-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 04-Jul-2011

Support South African History Online

Dear friends of SAHO

South African History Online (SAHO) needs your support.

SAHO is one of the most visited websites in South Africa with over 6 million unique users a year. Our goal is to fulfill our mandate and continue to build, and make accessible, a new people’s history of South Africa and Africa.

Please help us deliver this by contributing upwards of $1.00 a month for the next 12 months.



Make a donation here and send us a message of support.