Steurhof and Diep River families who were uprooted from their homes under apartheid’s Group Areas Act in the 1970s will hold a reunion at the South Peninsula High School on Saturday July 15.
It’s been almost three years since a reunion of former Steurhof residents saw people who had been scattered across the Cape Flats by apartheid come from Lavender Hill, Retreat, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Punts Estate and Elfindale to meet childhood friends and neighbours who they hadn’t seen in some 50-odd years (“Displaced families planning a reunion,“ Bulletin, November 2020)
This year’s event will also include families who were forcibly removed from Diep River. According to reunion organisers, Chantal Geland and Lowena Carolus, Diep River was as much a part of their community as the eight streets of Steurhof that were affected by the removals.
Many of the Steurhof community’s institutions were a stone’s throw away from their homes, at schools and churches in Diep River, where deep connections and memories were made.
Some are no longer there due to the Group Areas Act, but St Luke’s Church in Diep River, the church that Ms Carolus has attended since was a child, still remains.
Ms Geland remembers walking from her home to the AME Church and the school she attended before it was closed.
“Most of the old Steurhof and Diep River people attended the AME School, and then from there when the Group Areas Act came into effect, we had to go to Central Primary. When Central Primary closed, we had to go to Punts Estates Primary. That’s Heathfield Primary now.”
Ms Carolus said Heathfield Primary pupils still wear Central Primary’s school badge and the abandoned school building is still there.
Holding the event at South Peninsula High School holds deep meaning and historical significance for the displaced families. According to Ms Carolus, the community fought to stop the school from being closed when its surroundings were classified as a whites-only area.
“Also, many of the older folks that came to the reunion used to attend South Peninsula High School, and they were very proud they could walk in here,” said Ms Carolus.
Both women, who as children lived two doors away from each other in Suring Street, said they were overwhelmed by the jubilant atmosphere at the first reunion.
“It was a very exciting reunion, very warm. People were just happy to see one another,” Ms Carolus said.
This year’s event starts at 4pm with speeches and a commemoration for those who have died, including nonagenarian Spasina “Spasie” Lewis, who died in 2021. Karaoke, live music and dancing will follow.
For more information or to reconnect with the group, contact Lowena Carolus at 082 235 0270 or Chantal Geland at 060 972 0014.