The hard road from the oldSimon’s Town

Jacoba Simon, Lily Lawrance, Heather Carlson, Shakena Meyer and Ocean View Planning Committee member Giovanni Carlson.

Simon’s Town was declared a whites-only area on September 1 1967. At the time, Slangkop, known today as Ocean View, had a population of about 5 000.

It had been established to house the fishing community and inhabitants of Simon’s Town, Noordhoek, Sunnydale, Sun Valley and Redhill. In 1970, the name changed from Slangkop to Ocean View.

In reaction to the announcement, a local committee was established. It was made up of church representatives, the mosque, ratepayers’ associations, the chamber of commerce and various sports bodies.

But despite the public meetings and petitions that followed, the writing was on the wall, and in 1968, residents who had called the quiet coastal town home found themselves and their families in an unknown area 15km away with unknown neighbours, no schools and limited transport.

About 12 500 residents were moved and at the time, there were about 2 500 housing units in Ocean View.

Oakley Court was the first block of flats to be occupied, and residents who had moved from large houses had to get used to a one-bedroom flat, some with only a toilet and no bath or shower and others with no kitchen basin, just a tap in the wall.

After the move, many residents still worked in Simon’s Town. At the time, there was one bus service from Kommetjie to Simon’s Town at 7.30am and no taxi services .

It was only in January 1969 that an earlier bus service at 5.30am was established.

Shakena Meyer, her husband and their two children lived with her grandparents in a house on Waterfall Road.

She recalls how her grandmother refused to pack up her house when they were told to move. The news took its toll on her grandmother, and she died a few weeks before they moved.

“It was a very traumatic experience, and we didn’t want to leave our close-knit community,” she says.

Housing was categorised according to income with an economic house being a free-standing house and a sub economic house being a flat or semi-detached house.

Shakena’s family qualified for an economic house. When the couple moved into their Zodiac Road home, it was much smaller than the house they had lived in previously.

Fortunately, she knew her neighbours as they were also from Simon’s Town.

“There was so much anger within the community, and many families were traumatised,” she says.

Heather Carlson was born in Seaforth but later moved to Simon’s Town. At the time, her father was the only “non-European” man in Simon’s Town who had a car.

She says the family lived in a big three-bedroom house with a long passage and big trees in the backyard.

Her family qualified for an economic house, and the Gemini Road house was much smaller than the house they had lived in.

Jacoba Simon recalls how traumatised her father was when a white man from the Group Areas Board came to their two-bedroom home in Noordhoek and told them they had to move.

Her father was an avid gardener and had a flourishing vegetable garden, which the family lived off.

When her father asked what would happen to his garden and his animals, the white man responded, “It’s not my problem.”

“We were given two weeks’ notice and had to pay for our move,” Jacoba says.

Her father gave all his animals away and neighbours were told to help themselves to the vegetables.

Jacoba says the image of her dad sitting head down in their empty house on the day of the move still haunts her.

Her dad could never get used to their new home in Saturn Way.

“He struggled to fit in and became very quiet. He started a small vegetable garden again but became ill soon after and died a year after we moved,” she says.

Lily Lawrance was born in Simon’s Town. Her mother was deaf and had speech problems, and after Lily’s father died, she, her mother and her five siblings had to move, and they settled in Perdekloof, Redhill.

Her mother remarried and had two more children, and the family moved to a bigger, two-bedroom house nearby.

At the time of the move, Lily was married with four children.

She and her husband qualified for a sub-economical house and moved into a block of flats in Pollux Road.

“There was electricity but no shower, no bath, no doors between the rooms and no stove,” she says.

She fondly looks back at her childhood in Simon’s Town, where she attended school, and recalls how they would sell flowers, from the school garden, for 10c to pay for their textbooks.

Her grandfather had a donkey cart which they used to travel to church.

She recalls how her grandfather would visit the only bottle store in Simon’s Town with the donkey cart and would then fall asleep on the cart. “The donkey would then take him from Simon’s Town to Redhill, and when the donkey would stop in front of our house, he would wake up.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ocean View, although some residents see it as 50 years of sadness.

Ocean View Planning Committee member, Giovanni Carlson, says the older generation in Ocean View is of the opinion that the event should not be commemorated, while the younger generation feels it should.

“For many, this is still a very emotional subject,” he says.

On Saturday September 29, the event will be commemorated with a walk from the water tank to Kleinberg Primary School, the first school in Ocean View, established in 1969, then to Ocean View Senior Secondary School, established in 1970, and will end at the multi-purpose centre, where the youngsters will participate in an indigenous-game tournament, while the older generation can enjoy a gallery exhibition and talks from residents who will talk about the forced removals.

Mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, Stuart Diamond, says the City’s tenancy management department is committed to upgrading the rental flats, but it will be done at a pace budgets allow.

The department, he says, will spend R800 000 on replacing window frames in council flats at Sonia, Stella, Maria and Frieda courts – just four of the 50 triple-storey blocks of some 600 council flats in Ocean View.

Area south Mayco member, Eddie Andrews, says the Ocean View Mountain View People’s Housing Process Project has provided 543 qualifying families with homes between 2013 and 2015 at a cost of approximately R65 million.

* Residents who want to find out if they can buy their rental units can contact 021 444 0333 or visit their nearest housing office for information.