Retired Capetonian Ebrahim Ahmed has unearthed a letter about a 1980 Christmas party and it shows how the apartheid government attempted to cement its control over racial interaction.
The occasion was simple: It was the annual Christmas party for a well-known furniture store and its manager in Elsie’s River, Moegamat Parker, had the Claremont Civic Centre in mind as a venue.
However, due to the labyrinth of apartheid law and bureaucracy, special permission had to be sought to allow for people classified as belonging to different race groups to attend the party under the same roof.
“The Claremont Civic was in a white area,” said Ahmed, a former employee at the furniture store, who found the old letter among his belongings.
According to SA History Online, Claremont was declared a “white area” by a government concerned about the number of black, coloured and Indian residents living there.
Its proximity to the Cape Town CBD and links to transport into the city made it a popular residential area.
However, after declaring it a “white” area, large-scale evictions of anybody who was not classified as white followed.
Ahmed said that he worked at the furniture store in Halt Avenue, Elsie’s River for 10 years and got on well with all of his colleagues, irrespective of their race or background.
They were all looking forward to the party, but his white colleagues did not attend and he did not understand why.
He thought the letter to his manager may have become caught up with his own things when he left and the company went through changes, and he saw it only recently. He thinks his manager may have it hidden it from staff because they all got on very well, regardless of how the apartheid government classified them. – News24