Sophiatown timeline 1899-1955
- Herman Tobiansky purchases land from the Johannesburg Municipality to develop as a residential area.
- Sophiatown has the first of its inhabitants. These are mainly white families
- Sophiatown grows, attracting other racial groups, mainly Africans as residents. Coloureds and Indians are still a minority at this stage.
- Sophiatown’s population grows exponentially as compared to growth in the other adjacent freehold townships of Newclare and Matindale.
- Successful slum clearance in the inner city leads to further growth in Sophiatown’s population.
- During the war years Sophiatown continues to grow. Some of the residents, Africans included, enlisted in the army. Henry Nxumalo, a well known Sophiatown resident and journalist is one of those that went to war.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that Sophiatown was not untouched by the African miners’ strike.
- The tradition of resistance in Sophiatown is in evidence during the Defiance Campaign of that year. This showed the widespread support the ANC had in the township
- The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 is passed, destined to provide the NP government with the legal mechanism to remove Sophiatown residents and resettle them in Soweto.
- The NRB conducts a survey of Sophiatown residents in preparation for the forced removals that began in 1955.
- Residents of Sophiatown hold regular meetings in an attempt to coordinate the resistance to the impending forced removals. The ANC becomes involved and there is talk of the M-Plan that would scupper the NRB’s plans.
- end of January, Police are deployed in Sophiatown in anticipation of a major resistance effort against forced removals.
- 9 February 1955 - November 1959, Duration of the destruction and removal of the community from Sophiatown to Soweto.
Last updated : 27-Jan-2016
This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011