1 History of the Coloured Residents of Mariannridge, by Hazel England, Pinetown Museum, October 1995.
3 Sarnia Factory
4 Early Marianridge resident Mrs Ellen July with son Joseph, circa 1923. Copyright C. July. Early Education
5 Education in the 1940s
6 Second World War, 1939-1945
7 Indian Riots, 1949
8 Coloured area at Sunrise Farm, 1956
9 Hill Street Housing, 1960
10 Rainbow Creche, 1962
11 The Group Areas Act, 1957
12 Pinetown Coloured Ratepayers Association
13 Group Areas Act, 1966
14 Regional Coloured Residents
15 Marianhill Coloureds
16 Rumours of the allocation of houses
17 Marianridge Rainbow Creche, moved from Pinetown to the new building in Marianridge in 1976.Opening of the Marianridge Township
18 Multiracial Community Council established in 1977.
19 Grass Hopper Club
21 Accommodation View of flats forming part of Phase 1 of the Marianridge Township Development
22 Modern Education
24 Mr Denis Steinank
25 Mr “Joe Louis” Bennett
26 1987 Floods at Marianridge
27 Development in the 1990s
29 Community Self Help
History of the Coloured Residents of Mariannridge, by Hazel England, Pinetown Museum, October 1995.
Coloured people have lived in the Pinetown area from the time of the Voortrekkers. Many worked as wagon drivers, servants and craftsmen for the Trekkers from the Cape Colony. After the Siege of the English Fort in Durban in 1842, a Hottentot driver led the wagon of an retreating Boer family which stopped at “Cowies Place” (Cowies Hill) for the night. Mr Welch’s transport coach from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in the 1850’s, was often driven by a Coloured man, but the unnamed driver did not live in Pinetown.
Never found in large numbers, the Coloured people were soon integrated into the population of Pinetown. “Annals of Sarnia Supplement”, documents the 150 Coloured workers employed at the Bullbrand Fertiliser factory, in Trochial Road, Sarnia from 1917. The low population statistics for early Pinetown prove that many Bullbrand workers came from outside the Pinetown area, and probably used the nearby railway for transport.
From the turn of the century, a few families lived as tenants on Mariannhill land, and local children encountered great problems when they wanted to attend school. Children from well known Natal Coloured families attended St. Francis College, at Mariannhill Monastery as boarders. These included members of the Dunn, Ogle, Nunn and Fynn clans.
In 1910 the Le Blank family from Mauritius settled in Pinetown where Mr Le Blank Wallace worked as a plumber. Young Elizabeth Le Blank was born in 1930, where she grew up, married Mr Rose and remained in Pinetown. Here she played a major role in the improvement of life of the Coloured community.
The 1936 Pinetown population statistics registered 8 Coloureds, which had increased to 33 by 1946. Families preferred the low tenant rates on Mariannhill land beyond the boundaries of central Pinetown. Other families settled on Mr Govender’s land, between what is now Nagina and Dassenhoek. A large community became tenants of Mr Desai at Umlaas where they lived a farming lifestyle. Among the early settlers families were Mr Couch, Mr Charles and later Mr Joe Louis Bennett. A list of Coloured tenants and land owners from different areas around Pinetown is attached in Appendix 1. All these residents moved to Mariannridge Township.
Education in the 1940s
Mr V. Couch told of his parents efforts to enroll him into a school in the Dassenhoek area at the end of the 1930’s. He was referred to the following Roman Catholic institutions. St. Xavier’s Dassenhoek, which served as a Church on Sundays and a school during the week. It is currently a school only, with Church services held at Fatima Church. As St. Xavier’s could not accommodate him he was referred to St. Philomena’s in Malvern (opened October, 1895) and then to St. Francis at Mariannhill (opened 1883), as none of the African schools nearby would accept him.
Mrs Elizabeth Rose explained the problems faced by Coloured school children in the Pinetown area in the 1930’s and 1940’s, during an interview in July 1993. Coloured pupils in Pinetown attended the Indian State Aided School in Bishops Road until they were transferred to St. Philomena’s Coloured School in Malvern. Time was wasted travelling by train to Malvern followed by the long walk to the school. In addition to these inconveniences, there were the extra costs involved, which most parents could ill afford. The entire group of dissastisfied Coloured children were soon transferred back to the Bishops Road School. Pinetown Coloured High School pupils, like their fellow Indian High School in Durban. Pinetown High School for White children opened in the mid 1950’s, with St. Francis College as the only High School in the area.
Second World War, 1939-1945
During the Second World War 1939-1945, members of the Malay and Indian Battalion were stationed at the Transport Depot on Surprise Farm (see History of Surprise Farm).
Private Charles served in the Administration section of the Transport Depot and remained as a resident of Pinetown and Mariannridge.
During interviews confusion persisted about the exact branch of the Defence Force, in which old Coloured Pinetonian’s served. To prevent future researchers from facing the same problems when war records are supplemented to the Museum list, a brief record of the Cape Corp is included.
The Cape Corp was formed in 1815 to assist the Cape English Colonial forces at the Slagtersnek Rebellion. Disbanded and reformed, this Corp. served until 1850. During the 1st World War, 1914-1918, both the 1st and 2nd Battalion Cape Corp. completed tours of duty in Africa and Palestine. Re-established in 1940 by Lieut. Col. C.N. Hoy, it’s purpose was to serve in non-combatant duties, and by 1942 had reached a strength of 23,000 men.
In June 1940, Lieut. Col. Morris was instructed to form the “Indian and Malay Corp.” of 15,000 men. From May, 1942 the Indian and Malay Corps was integrated into the Cape Corps, and took their name. Post war industrial expansion attracted returning servicemen to Pinetown including Mr David Daniels of the Cape Corp, who had been attached to the S.A. Air Force as a ground gunner.He had single Coloured friends in Dales Avenue who shared accommodation with him whilst seeking employment. Inspired by his war experiences, Mr Daniels formed a Football Club with his young friends which later was to play a political role in the upliftment of the Coloured Community.
Indian Riots, 1949
Job opportunities increased the number of Coloured residents in the Pinetown/Mariannhill area, with families living as tenants on Indian owned land at Motala Farm, Dassenhoek, Thornwood, New Germany and Sarnia. They were also tenants on African properties at Nazareth, Clermont and in New Germany, where relationships with their neighbours were friendly.
Violent clashes between Zulus and Indians in Durban in January 1949, found Coloured tenants in the midst of racial clashes as the unrest moved beyond Durban. Pinetown, New Germany, Motala Farm, Northdene Indian Settlement, Dassenhoek and Thornwood all experienced either violence, arson or looting.
Mr Vernon Couch recalled how the bus and train transport, which employed large numbers of Indians, was disrupted. He revived memories of Coloured people defending Indian victims, while others joined the looters.
Coloured area at Sunrise Farm, 1956
The Highway Mail of 07-09-1956, reported on the Pinetown Town Council discussions on the need for an area for Coloured housing. Surprise Farm was suggested as a suitable site, but controversy about a “regional Coloured or Pinetown Coloured” development marred progress. Accommodation patterns for Coloured families had relied on supply and demand, but this was all changed by the proposed August 1957 Group Areas Act for Pinetown.
Hill Street Housing, 1960
Coloured housing was still inadequate by 1960 for the approximately 100 Coloured families in Pinetown. The Borough of Pinetown made temporary housing facilities available in the old Hill Street location, which had previously been occupied by Africans. The area is the present site of the African Taxi Rank.
Under the guidance of Mrs Elizabeth Rose, the then President of the Pinetown Coloured Ladies Association which was started in 1963, fund raising events were organised. These included jumble and cake sales, and a “twist” and dance session where the Coloured community could get together for fun while contributing to the community welfare. A Health Clinic was opened in the Indian Hall in Moodie Street, for the Coloured families at no. 12 Hill Street.
Rainbow Creche, 1962
Mrs Elizabeth Rose, a voluntary Welfare worker, surveyed the 100 Coloured families living in Pinetown and found that there were 68 children between the age of 2-5 years, mostly with working mothers. The need for a care centre was brought to the attention of the Department of Community Development. A disused African beerhall in Hill Street was opened as the Rainbow Creche for the children in May 1962, at the cost of R2 a month.
In 1969 the Pinetown Child Welfare took over the administration of the Rainbow Creche until the lower Hill Street area was expropriated by the S.A. Railways in 1976 for the erection of goods sheds. This creche has now been relocated to Mariannridge were most of the families have been moved to with a beautiful new building and Mrs Elizabeth Rose is still the proud owner.
The Group Areas Act, 1957
In August 1957, after negotiations between the Group Areas Board and Pinetown, it was suggested that an area south of Motala Farm, towards the Umhlatuzana River, be zoned for Coloured housing. Houses would be built and plots made available for freehold purchase. This unpopular proposal was reversed and the matter remained unresolved until 1962.
Pinetown Coloured Ratepayers Association
Growing fear among the Coloured population concerning forced removals by the Group Areas Act, and the allocation of a Coloured township unacceptable to the community, led to the formation of the Pinetown Coloured Ratepayers Association (P.C.R.A.) under the Chairman Mr David Daniels. Members of the Coloured Football Team formed by the Dales Avenue friends, although not property owners, felt that their rent contributed to rates which entitled them to represent the Coloured residents. The P.C.R.A. met the Group Areas Board in January 1962 with a memorandum advocating the area between Motala Farm and the Pinetown Race Track be declared Coloured. A second memorandum was presented to the Group Areas Board in September 1964, which included the Coloured population distribution and a plea for houses and schools.
Group Areas Act, 1966
The Group Areas Act Proclamation 126 of April 1966, expropriated Mariannhill Mission land beyond the Umhlatuzana River, roughly from the Mariannhill Station to the Farm Stockville 1382, for a Coloured township. An area called Kipi, with its settlement of African homes at Kipitown, under the leadership of Mr Bartle Dube, was within this area. Displaced Africans were housed at KwaNdengezi across the Umlaas River and in 1968 the Pinetown Borough bought 1800 ha. of the area, for Phase 1 of the development of the Coloured Township of Mariannridge. Placed on the ridge overlooking Mariannhill Monastery, Mariannridge was named because of it’s geographic location.
Regional Coloured Residents
A 1967 “Pinetown Civic Survey” by the Town and Regional Planning Department of the University of Natal, attributed the high growth rate in the Coloured population to natural increase and immigration from the Western Cape. Wages in the Durban/Pinetown area were 50 per cent higher than in the Cape, with work opportunities and facilities easily available. Workers from the Cape were later followed by an influx from the Transkei after their independence.
By June 1970, the areas of Zeekoeigat and Klaarwater adjoining Mariannhill with a population of 966 Coloureds, were incorporated into Pinetown, followed by Dassenhoek with 500 Coloureds in 1971. The local Pinetown population of 250 Coloureds was dramatically increased within a year.
Rumours of the allocation of houses
Rumours that either political views or religion would bar certain members of the Coloured Community from occupying houses in the new township were rife. In December 1975 Mr Hiles, Regional representative of the Department of Community Development, told a meeting of the Coloured Civic Association in Pinetown that priority would be given to Coloureds from Pinetown. That the flats, row houses and duplexes of Phase 1, would be supplemented by “homes for about 50,000 people in 10,000 units over the next 10 years.”
A letter to Mr Daniels from Mr H.H. Smit, Minister of Coloureds, Rehobath and Nama Relations, of the 08-06-1976, promised preference for Pinetown residents, and “that sufficient accommodation would eventually be provided to satisfy adequately the housing needs of the Coloured Community of Pinetown area.”
Marianridge Rainbow Creche, moved from Pinetown to the new building in Marianridge in 1976. Opening of the Marianridge Township
Mariannridge Township, built by the Department of Community Development, opened in September 1976 with 602 housing units nearly completed, and a health clinic plus a small library temporarily housed in a rented Community Development house.
The Rainbow Creche was moved from Hill Street into a new building, built by the Child Welfare, and funded by a state loan.
School children were bussed to Rippon Road School in Sydenham, Durban, until the Primary School admitted its first pupils in January, 1979.
Multiracial Community Council established in 1977. Multiracial Community Council, 1977
South Africa’s first multi-racial Community Council with 3 representatives from each race group sat in Pinetown on the 15th September, 1977.
Established to open and maintain lines of communication between different race groups, it helped to upgrade Pinetown’s less privileged communities.
Mariannridge delegates were Mrs Elizabeth Rose of the Coloured Person’s Representative Council, Mr Sias and Mr Johnson.
Grass Hopper Club
Political unrest, an economic recession and the Tri-Cameral Elections in which the White, Indian and Coloureds voted for a joint Central Government, all affected Mariannridge in the 1980’s. Mariannridge now fell under the jurisdiction of the House of Delegates. The “Compost Queens” of the Grasshopper Club, established in 1982. To help the unemployed become self sufficient a “Grasshopper Club” was established, with gardens laid out with the assistance of soldiers from Natal Command and Mrs Marie Carey of the Pinetown Welfare Society.
Food grown by the community members including Mrs Charmaine Anderson, Mrs Nora Peters, Mrs Yvonne Swadling, Mrs Molly Blignaut and Mrs Mary Trajera was distributed to the needy. Initially an economic self help scheme, the Grasshopper Club contributed to the community building, where friendships were formed and marginalised groups integrated into the population of 3,000 residents.
The Pinetown Parks and Gardens department built 2 children’s playgrounds in the 1980’s for recreation. A soccer field was originally put in by the House of Delegates who maintained it until the mid 1980’s. Maintenance was then handed over to the Pinetown Borough. Other sports facilities included a swimming pool opened in 1986, with 2 tennis courts opened in 1987.
There was neither cinemas nor commercial forms of entertainment for residents, so the community organised dances, community evenings and a High Schools Debutants Ball. The Pinetown and Highway Child Welfare with a group of dedicated Coloured ladies arranged school holiday programmes.
Accommodation View of flats forming part of Phase 1 of the Marianridge Township Development
Phase 1 of Mariannridge consisted of the flats and houses for rent built by the Department of Community Development. In 1983, a non-profit organisation Comhousing, started with the development of 26 subsidised homes. Since the 1990’s privately built homes have added to the residential capacity of the township.
The 1990 population statistics for Pinetown Coloureds was 8,615 with most of the overcrowding in the rented accommodation, where often three generations of a family lived in a confined space.
During interviews, old residents blame socia-economic problems on the lack of suitable accommodation, and the lack of funds to improve these conditions.
The Rainbow Creche did not meet the needs of the large population so the Candy Floss preschool was opened by Child Welfare in 1979. In 1982 the Rainbow Creche broke away from the Welfare to become a private organisation.
Mariannridge High School, completed in 1983, provided education for the children amongst the 8,000 residents. Social activities have centered around the school hall which is used by the whole community.
The Pinetown/Umhlathuzana basin has been subject to numerous flash floods with high rainfall in a short space of time, as well as floods from prolonged rainfall in a wet season. Early agriculturalists relied on the rain, river and spring water for survival, but any excess devastated their wattle and daub homes with all it’s contents. Steep inclines and the rocky terrain around Dassenhoek and Thornwood resulted in a rapid run off of water into the Umhlathuzana River, which resulted in flash floods.
Mr Denis Steinank
“Heroes of the flood, two Pinetown men rescued nine children” was the November 7th, 1975 Highway Mail headline. The drama occurred at the height of a freak storm which hit the area on the 25 September 1975. Nine African children were stranded on a central spur of sand in the river. Deputy Chief Traffic Officer, Derek Bossert and Mr Denis Steinbank, a Coloured resident who lived near the river, managed to climb across a “cat’s cradle of cable” over the swollen river and rescued the children. Both men were commended by the Pinetown Town Council for their selfless act of bravery at a meeting in November.
Mr “Joe Louis” Bennett
Mr “Joe Louis” Bennett’s home at Govender’s Farm collapsed during a flood in 1976. He lost all his personal possessions including his Trophy won as South African Flyweight Boxing Champion in 1948. Between 1942 when he fought his first bout at the Moodie Street Hall, Pinetown until 1946, he contested 42 fights only losing 2, drawing 2, and winning the remainder. Foot work and his quick evasive body movements, followed by hard punches earned him the nickname “Joe Louis”, as his technique was similar to the American world class boxer of the same name.
1987 Floods at Marianridge
576mm of rain fell in 72 hours between the 27th-30th of September, 1987. It was the heaviest rainfall recorded in Pinetown and resulted in havoc and hardship. Many of the low lying homes at Mariannridge were flooded and the families were evacuated. A bank fell down in Mercury Lane and Milky Lane forcing residents into temporary shelters in the Mariannridge High School hall. Food, clothing and blankets were donated to flood victims, and life carried on.
The first matric Debutants Ball for Mariannridge High was scheduled for the night after the flood. Despite the tragedy that gripped the community, the ball was held in the Pinetown Civic Centre. Queen of the ball was Nolene Kok, the girl who raised the most money towards a school bursary fund.
Roads and bridges were washed away, with electricity supply lines and piped water disrupted in numerous parts of the Borough. Because of the extent of the damage it took until January St Mary’s Church in Marianridge 1988 before residents could return to their homes.
Development in the 1990s
A community hall was erected in 1990 near to the large Roman Catholic Church completed in 1991, with Fr. Sales Sapper as parish priest Only consecrated in September 1995, St. Mary Anne’s Church “serves as a home and bond for a suffering community.” Sisters of the Order of the Precious Blood assist the aged and under privileged in the Roman Catholic community.
A Social Service Club for Senior Citizens was changed to a branch.
Weekly meetings with activities and a meal, consolidate all the Welfare needs for the elderly Mariannridge residents.
The branch of the Pinetown Library was moved to a larger premises in a shopping complex in 1990, while the Borough continued to provide a Health Service.
Transport to Durban is provided by the Railways from the nearby Mariannhill Station, with a bus service and independent taxi’s ferrying commuters to Pinetown.
Community Self Help
Adult volunteers and children from the Rainbow Creche are helping to clear a wetland site, where the “Grasshopper Club” flourished in 1982, for a park which will enhance the suburb.
1. Russels, G. History of Old Durban. P. Davies. Durban 1899 pg 51-52
2. McCartan, Mary. Annals of Pinetown Supplement, Sarnia.
3. England, Hazel. Pinetown Population Statistics, 1854-1993.
4. 1925 St. Josephs Indian Football Team photograph. Herman, Adelgiza Sr. 100 years of Mariannhill Province. A history of the Congregation of Missionaries of Mariannhill. Published, Mariannhill Mission Press 1984.
5. Interview with Mr Naicken 20-01-1993. Pinetown Museum.
6. Interview with Mrs Elizabeth Rose. Mariannridge High School 02-07-1993. Population Statistics Pinetown Museum.
7. Interview with Mr V. Couch, Mr “Joe Louis” Bennett and Mr David Daniels, Mariannridge Library 11-09-1995.
8. Interview with Mr Couch. 11-09-1995.
9. Interview with Mrs E. Rose at Mariannridge School Hall. 02-07-1993.
10. Interview with Mr Charles at Mariannridge School Hall. 02-07-1993.
11. Resume of Cape Corps. from the Souvenir Brochure of the S.A.C.E.L. (South African Coloured ex Servicemen’s Legion) 40th National Conference, 28-31st December, 1987 at the Durban City Hall. Pg 14
12. Interview with Mr David Daniels. 11-09-1995. Adjutant General’s War Records Department, War Medals certificates dated 05-12-1947. Undated notes supplied by Mr Daniels about the Football Club and Pinetown Coloured Ratepayers Association.
13. List of Coloured Residents of Pinetown supplied by Mr Bennett, Mr Couch, Mr Daniels, supplemented by Mrs Sharon Aziz. Appendix 1.
14. Indian riots in Pinetown Magistrates Book of Records. Interview with old Residents of Northdene Indian Settlement. Interview with Mr Govender and Mr R. Pillay, Motala Farm.
15. Interview with Mr Vernon Couch, Mariannridge Library. 11-09-1995.
16. Report on area for Coloureds, in Highway Mail. 07-09-1956.
17. Pinetown Coloureds plan Community Centre in Highway Mail. 07-02-1964.
18. Sister Betty Blackmore. Notes on the History of Pinetown Health Department. 1993
19. Rainbow Creche turns 30 this year in Highway Mail. 03-07-1992. “Mariannridge” in Pinetown Highway Child and Family Welfare 50th Anniversary Publication 1981
20. Mayors Bid to help ousted tenants in Natal Mercury. 08-11-1975.
21. Mayors Minute. 1957. Published, Borough of Pinetown. Mayor’s Minute. 1960-1961. Published, Borough of Pinetown.
22. Daniels, David. Copy of notes about the Pinetown Coloured Football Team and Coloured Ratepayers Association.
23. Daniels, David. Chairman. “Copy of Memorandum to be presented to the Group Areas Board by the Pinetown Coloured Ratepayers Association in the Pinetown Committee Hall, January 1962.” Daniels, David. Chairman. “Copy of Memorandum to be presented to the Group Area Board by the Coloured Ratepayers Association in September, 1964.”
24. Pinetown Mayor’s Minute 1966, 1967. Published, Borough of Pinetown.
25. Herman, Adelgiza Sr. 100 years of Mariannhill Province.
26. Pinetown Civic Survey 1967 by the University of Natal Town and Regional Planning Department. Coloured Labour in Supplement to the S.A. Industry and Trade Magazine, May 1965.
27. Population Statistics in Pinetown Brochure, 1972-1973. Published, Borough of Pinetown.
28. “Politics will be no bar” in Highway Mail. 12-12-1975.
29. Letter to Mr David Daniels from Mr H.H. Smit the Minister of Coloured, Rehobath and Nama Relations dated 08-06-1976.
30. “South Africa Needs You Mariannridge Residents Told” in Highway Mail. 16-09-1977. Pinetown Mayors Minute 1976. Published, Borough of Pinetown.
31. Mariannridge in Pinetown and Highway Child and Family Welfare 50th Anniversary Brochure. Published 1981.
32. Information supplied by Mrs E. Rose, Local Affairs Committee Mariannridge.
33. “Multi-racial Council Meets”, in Natal Mercury. 16-09-1977. Mayors Minute 1977. Published, Borough of Pinetown. Official photograph of the 1977-1978, Pinetown Community Council.
34. The Grasshopper’s Garden in South African “Panorama” October, 1982. Interview with Mrs Mary Trajera Mariannridge. 02-07-1993.
35. Interview with Mr Mike Leech about the History of the Pinetown Parks and Gardens. Pinetown Library 11-11-1992.
36. Information from the Pinetown Engineers Department.
37. Hazel promoting a positive approach to local history. Highway Mail 06-08-1993.
38. Development overview with emphasis on the Residential Development in Pinetown South as updated in April 1992. Pinetown Housing Department.
39. Interview with Mrs Daniels, Mr David Daniels and Mr Bennett at the Pinetown Museum. 20-10-1995.
40. Mariannridge in Pinetown and Highway Child Welfare.
41. Mariannridge Library Staff.
42. Heroes of the Flood in Highway Mail. 07-11-1975 pg 1,3
43. Information provided by Mr Bennett during interview on 20-10-1995.
44. Mariannridge mudslides. Photograph in Highway Mail. 09-10-1987. Mariannridge Debutants Ball in Highway Mail. 09-10-1987. Mariannridge Library Staff. Interview with old residentsat Mariannridge School Hall. 02-07-1993.
45. Herman, Adelgiza Sr. 100 years of Mariannhill Province.
46. Mariannridge Library Staff.
47. History of the Pinetown Library. Pinetown Museum.
48. Information supplied by Mike Leech, Pinetown Parks and Gardens. Map. Pinetown street map and index. February 1994, pg 1,17