St Wendolin’s: 1945-1996


1 History of St. Wendolin’s: 1945-1996.

1.1 Post War Mariannhill
1.2 Marianhill Health Board
1.3 Bantu Education Act 1954
1.4 Group Areas Act 1957-1967
1.5 Housing
1.6 Labour Strikes 1971-1974
1.7 Pinetown Community Council
1.8 Creches
1.9 Forced Removals
1.10 Unrest at St. Wendolin’s 1980s
1.11 Suspension of Services
1.12 Upgrading of Facilities 1991-
1.13 References

History of St. Wendolin’s: 1945-1996.

Post War Mariannhill
Post war Mariannhill saw many changes as industrialisation in the Durban – Pinetown region attracted many qualified Zulus away from the mission villages. Political change was brought by the Nationalist Party elected into power in 1949. Segregation between the races had been a matter of choice, social custom and laws designed to prevent conflict between competing economic forces. From 1950 Separate Development in all spheres of activity, was controlled by rigid legislation. The new laws were in opposition to the economic and social upliftment of Africans through education, the Catholic Workers Union and the Africanisation of Mission churches promoted by Mariannhill (37).

Marianhill Health Board
The Mariannhill Health Board area was constituted in 1951, and Proclaimed in May 1952 to prevent incorporation into the Borough of Pinetown. Higher rates and diminished autonomy in policy making motivated this strategy. However, a joint Pinetown-Mariannhill Town Planning Committee was formed at the same time to facilitate future development. Water supplies for the Mission lands had been supplied by a dam on the Umhlathuzana River.

Although adequate for the present population, the Regional Water Supply extended facilities to the Mariannhill Health Board in 1952, allowing for future growth. Negotiations between the expanding Pinetown Borough, and it’s agricultural and educationally based Christian neighbour was to continue over the next 40 years (38).

Bantu Education Act 1954
The Bantu Education Act of 1954 stated that all African schools should be under the direct control of the government. No government financial subsidies, or teacher’s salaries would be paid to Private schools, who chose to remain outside government control. Mariannhill chose to retain independent school status with their own syllabus and religious education. St. Wendolin’s like other Mission schools had been subsidised since the 1930s. Reduced salaries to staff forced many male teachers to move to government schools. Fund raising drives in Europe by the Mariannhill Mission continued for many years to supplement the financial needs of schools and teachers. Black teachers from the Order of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assissi, maintained St. Wendelins school until it was relinquished to the government in the 1970s (39).

Father E Muller together with Father Kunene, Father Jerome Mjwara and Father Fernand Hoffman continued to serve the congregation at St. Wendelin’s church. Faith and the pastoral work in the community did much to allay residents’ fear of future land dispensation.

Group Areas Act 1957-1967
St. Wendelin’s residents reacted with shock when plans for the Group Areas Act were made known in the Magisterial District of Pinetown in August 1957. St. Wendelins was declared an Indian area. Displaced Black residents from Mariannhill were to be relocated to the new townships, of KwaNdengezi and KwaDabeka in neighbouring KwaZulu. Both the Mariannhill Mission and residents of St. Wendelin’s objected strongly to the government proposals. The Mission tried to have Mariannhill dezoned to preserve the established White, Black, Indian and Coloured communities. Despite protracted negotiations in 1964, the area west of the Umhlathuzana River was declared Coloured, with Klaarwater and St. Wendelin’s declared Indian. Land between the river and Pinetown was declared White and proclaimed as such in 1967. Shortly after the Black areas of Mariannhill, Zeekoeigat and Klaarwater were incorporated into Pinetown (1970) and St. Wendelin’s residents paid rates to the borough. (mid 1970s) (40).

Rapid industrialisation in the Pinetown-New Germany area increased the demand for Black labour and job seekers flocked to the area. Black housing development could not keep pace with the demand resulting in illegal tenants and informal housing. Land owners at St. Wendelin’s offered accommodation to the homeless, as both tenants and squatters at a lucrative charge (41).

They were warned about the illegal settlers by the Bantu Affairs Department, but as no alternative housing was provided for workers families, “temporary dwellings” increased. The majority of new settlers came from rural areas and the Transkei to work in the Textile factories. Integration of the factory workers into the close knit community was hampered by the emergence of the independent trade unions in the greater Durban area (42).

Labour Strikes 1971-1974
Eleven strikes took place in the Pinetown-Durban area in 1971. Ensuing labour negotiations contained the problem until the strikes of 1973, which resulted in stay-aways, notably from Frame Textiles in New Germany (43). Unrest in the work place was soon transferred to Black residential areas, and St. Wendelin’s was embroiled in “hooliganism and merciless killing” from 1970-1976 (44).

Father E Shangase a Mariannhill trained priest led the mission through the troubled period of 1975-1982 assisted by the preacher Mr Linus Ngidi. Africanisation of the Church was continued when Father Shangase was followed by Father Paul Khumalo, and later by Father Christopher Bhekumuzi Hlengwa. Father Hlengwa is still in office at St. Wendelin’s.

Pinetown Community Council
A Pinetown Community Council was established in 1977 with 3 representatives from each racial group to keep channels of communication open (45, 46). Mr Herbert Luthuli from St. Wendelin’s was an active member of the Community council. As a result authorities became aware of the needs of the township. Pinetown implemented water stands in the area to prevent the spread of disease, as it was feared the existing pit latrines would cause water pollution (47).

The Pinetown Highway Child and Family Welfare Society responded to the need for creche facilities. In 1973 the Eyethu Creche provided safe child care for working mothers. The translation of Eyethu means “This is ours” and referred to the community pledge to protect, and care for the building and uphold the value of education for the very young. As the demand for day care centres increased, the Mpumelelo Creche opened. Mpumelelo means “We have achieved” and refers to the gratitude of the working mothers, who could earn a living and not feel anxious about their children. Hlope means “A truce” or “peace of mind” and the school site is on former agricultural land farmed by the Hlope family (48). Pinetown Rotary donated a building for use as a health clinic, while Pinetown Borough provided the staff and medicine (49).Sporting facilities were improved with the provision of a soccer field laid out, and maintained, by the Pinetown Parks Department (50).

Forced Removals
Prior to 1981, 21 families were removed to KwaNdengezi and 47 to KwaDabeka often without any financial compensation, (or choice) in the decision (51). Among the angry residents who had moved the following were interviewed by the Sunday Tribune of the 07-06-1981:

Mr Smangaliso Meyiwa, Mrs Barnabus Vezi, Mrs Amelia Nzimande and Mrs Euphemia Dube. A tale of heartbreak and financial difficulty accompanied each interview (52, 53). Fear of increased forced removals remained a cause of unrest and led to the formation of the “St. Wendelin’s Welfare Committee” in 1981. Appeals to the KwaZulu Government, Mariannhill Mission, lawyers and religious organisations had proved fruitless.

A petition encompassing all the reasons against removal was drawn up, and signed by 1,300 heads of households. Petition statements include:
1. The residents cannot leave their forefathers graves, which prove their occupation of the area since the 1890s.
2. The close knit community which had evolved around the Church, Mission and School would be fragmented with no one to care for widows and orphans.
3. Many Christians would fall away from the Church, because they felt it had forsaken them, by allowing the removals to be implemented.
4. Land owners would lose substantial houses, vegetable gardens and crops.
5. Land owners would lose occupation rights, as a result of the move. (About 30 families possessed the original Deed of Sale, issued by Mariannhill Monastery at the turn of the century.)
6. Financially a move to a new area would mean higher rent, (R25 a month as opposed to R5 a year at St. Wendelins) smaller houses (Mr Smangaliso Meyiwa moved from a 7 roomed house to a 2 roomed house) and smaller plots of land, on which crops could not be grown. Schools were far away from new townships, with increased transport costs. In addition, workers in town faced higher transport costs (54, 55).

The above grievances were handed to the Group Areas Board Meeting in Pinetown on 18th June 1982. A positive atmosphere surrounded the talks and in April 1983, the Minister of Constitutional Development allowed the St. Wendelin’s residents to remain on Mission Land.

Unrest at St. Wendolin’s 1980s
Celebrations after the end of removals, was overtaken by the upsurge of Black unrest and violence in South Africa. Growing Black Nationalism and tribal differences culminated in a revolt against the leadership of Mr B.H. Dlamini at St. Wendelin’s. Permanent residents felt he was giving preference to the contract workers, mainly Mapondo’s, instead of the indigenous Zulus (56).

Suspension of Services
During 1986, Indian workers from the Pinetown Parks Department were threatened by St. Wendelin’s residents. Their services were suspended, as workers safety could not be guaranteed. Closure of the Health Clinic followed the suspension of the Parks Department. The Pinetown Borough maintained the community hall until 1988, when vandalism stopped this service. Following the demise of the Port Natal Bantu Affairs Department, the cemetery at St. Wendelin’s fell under the jurisdiction of the Pinetown Parks Department. Residents however refused to allow workers to maintain this amenity (57).

Following the rapid political changes in South Africa in 1991, the Pinetown Borough was appointed an agent of the Natal Provincial authorities to supervise the Development Areas of Pinetown South. St. Wendelin’s was included in this area.

Upgrading of Facilities 1991-
Sunflower Concepts, a private enterprise project has provided a community centre for on site training, a creche, an informal market and a community library opened in March 1992.It is estimated that there are 5,220 residents represented by the Isolomuzi Residents Committee and the St. Wendelin’s Ratepayers Association (private land owners).Not all the land belongs to Blacks. Some is privately owned by Indians and the House of Delegates. This land was bought when the area was zoned for Indian residents in the 1960s (58).

Envisaged upgrading of the area includes extension of services from the 691 sites in existence in 1991, to 1,991 sites. Future sites will accommodate the families at present in temporary housing, enlarging the settlement to 13,500 people. Attempts by the provincial authorities to move squatters into the area were rejected by the community (59). Residents are determined to keep the community spirit alive and not become overcrowded by outsiders.

St. Wendelin’s residents can look forward to their centenary celebrations in 1995 with confidence. Close ties exist between St Wendelin’s and the nearby Mariannhill Mission, which nurtured and encouraged its Zulu neighbours.

37. Marquard, Leo. The People and Policies of South Africa. 3rd Edition Pub. Oxford Paperbacks 196238. Adelgiza, Sr M. CPS. 100 Years Mariannhill Province. Pub. Mariannhill Mission Press, 1983.39. Adelgiza, Sr M. CPS. 100 Years Mariannhill Province. Pub. Mariannhill Mission Press, 1983.40. Pinetown Mayors Minutes. 1973-1974, Pub. Borough of Pinetown.41. Donald, Sheila. A situation with no solution. Pub. University of Natal. 1981.42. Donald, Sheila. A situation with no solution. Pub. University of Natal. 1981.43. Wood, Geoffrey. The 1973 Durban Strikes : of Local and National Significance. Pub. Contree no 31. 1992.44. Luthuli, Herbert. The First History of St. Wendelin’s 1982.45. Luthuli, Herbert. The First History of St. Wendelin’s 1982.46. “Multi Racial Council meets”. Natal Mercury. 16th Sep. 1977.47. Mayor’s Minute – 1976-1977. Pub. Borough of Pinetown.48. 50 Years of Community Service. 1981 Golden Jubilee Year of Pinetown-Highway Child and Family Welfare Society. Pub. 198149. Blackmore, Sister B. Notes on Health Clinics in the Pinetown area. 1992. PinetownMuseum.50. Leech, Mike. Interview on History of Pinetown Parks and Gardens. Nov. 1992. Pinetown Museum.51. “St. Wendolin’s, where ingenuity has triumphed over difficulties” Highway Black Sash Report in Highway Mail Bonus Edition. July 1979.52. They have been torn up by the roots. Sunday Tribune. 07-06-198153. The Editor and Joyce Parsons. Removals come under a bright spotlight. Westville News. March, 1982. pg. 6-7.54. Donald, Sheila. A situation with no solution. Pub. University of Natal, 1981.55. Luthuli, Herbert. The First History of St. Wendelin’s. 198256. Luthuli, Herbert. The First History of St. Wendelin’s. 1988.57. Leech, Mike. Interview on History of the Pinetown Parks and Gardens. Nov. 1992. Pinetown Museum.58. Development overview with emphasis on Residential Development in Pinetown South. As updated in April 1992. Pub. Pinetown Municipality. 1992.59. “No room at St. Wendelin’s – Squatter Relocation”. Highway Mail 27 Nov. 1991.
More on: St Wendolin’s: Prehistory | St Wendolin’s: 1882-1914 | St Wendolin’s: 1914-1945 | St Wendolin’s: 1945-1996

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