February 09, 2014

On this day February 9th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

It was in the early hours on 9 February 1955 when around 2 000 policemen, armed with guns, knobkerries and rifles, forcefully moved the families of Sophiatown to Meadowlands, Soweto. Their possessions were loaded at the back of police trucks, and dumped in Meadowlands where they were forced to stay. With their children, these families were exposed to cold and rainy weather conditions. According to a notice, residents were supposed to be moved on 12 February 1955, but the government caught them by surprise.

The forced removals were part of the government's countrywide apartheid plan to turn the residential and business areas of cities and towns white. They did this by forcibly removing black South Africans to ghetto-like 'locations' or 'townships', away from the white areas. A new, white suburb was built on the ruins of Sophiatown and named Triomf, which translates to “triumph”. In June of the same year (1955), the Freedom Charter was adopted at Kliptown, where Africans, Indians, Colored and Whites came together in a dramatic event that took two days. In 2006 Sophiatown was renamed by Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo.

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