Today, 17 years since the advent of non-racial democracy in South Africa, many younger people will have no real concept of what apartheid was like. Working for the liberal opposition, the Progressive Federal Party, in the early 1980s, I got to grips with some of the policy's most sinister aspects. There was a so-called "white corridor" between the nominally independent Ciskei and Transkei. The purpose of Vervoerdian "grand apartheid" was to make black people a minority in South Africa, as people supposedly returned to their "homelands". But of course nobody wants to move from where they have lived for generations, so the state started its policy of forced removals of "black spots". One such area was Mgwali, near Stutterheim. The son of one of Mgwali's oldest residents, Kidwell Giga, visited us in our Eat London office and told us something about this historic place - and of how the Nat government was colluding with Ciskei officials to have the area "voluntarily" agree to be removed so some or other dumping ground in the Ciskei. The PFP made it its business to try to halt this removal and many others, including that of Duncan Village, a long-established black settlement in East London. Here the aim was to dump these people in Mdantsane, a sprawling township some 20km outside East London - and happily (for the Nats) in the "independent" Ciskei. They would lose their citizenship just like that.
I wrote this piece at the time (the last leg of copy is below). It was published in the Daily Dispatch in November, 1982. I was 26 years old. Please click on the images to see them at a readable size.
I am happy to record that thanks to widespread opposition, Mgwali and Duncan Village were not obliterated. A few small battles against apartheid were starting to be won in the early- to mid-1980s. I believe those of us who had the guts to speak out against injustice at the time helped bring down the apartheid government monolith in the early 1990s.