In Issue No.3 1989, Learn and Teach had a competition. It was called the “Important Dates Competition” and we invited readers to write about an important political day in their life up to 1960. We received many entries — all of them telling a different story and all of them good. So it was no easy thing to choose the winners. But in the end, we had to make a decision. The names of the lucky winners are:
I. Mokoka, Sebokeng
M. Zoran, Guyani
S. Mazibuko, Malelane
E. Curele, Kloof
E. Masoba, Tlhabane
J. Setloboko, Johannesburg
N. Ndhlovu, Soweto
P. Motaung, Alexandra
E. Molobi, Hillbrow
Congratulations! You will soon be receiving your gift!
Below, we have published one of the winning entries, sent in by Isaac Mokoka.
In March 21 1960, when the 69 Sharpeville people were shot dead by Pretoria, the Evaton people gathered at the “White Residensia Police Station” to defy Verwoerd’s Pass Laws. Residensia was a place occupied by whites at that time, and there were small farms in the southern zone of Evaton where we were staying. The people were told to stand on one side of the open veld between the Police Station and De-Deur. PAC leaders, including the likes of the exiled Mr Gabie Seandamela, refused.
I was told this information by my parents who were amongst the protesters as I was only a child of nine then. They said they refused to move from “White Residensia”. Because they were mixed with whites, the soldiers and police were unable to shoot them.
Meanwhile, me and my five friends, (one a cripple), were in the veld between Residensia and the small farms, stoning birds with our “skiet rekkers” (slings). We defied our parents’ orders to stay indoors the whole day.
Suddenly, we heard the loud sound of airplanes. There were six of them. They flew just about five metres above our heads, with an up-and-down and to-and-fro movement. When we realised that we were their targets, we fled in terror. We were so shocked that these planes were after us. Our legs could not carry us faster as we were trembling with shock.
Our crippled friend, Ramatalane, who could not run, cried out: “Help me! help me! Isaac, do not leave me behind.” I came back for him with these boers after us. I tried to carry him on my back but, oh! in vain as he was so heavy. We struggled like that until we reached his home. The action of the planes carried on and even after we locked ourselves in the house with our brothers and sisters, we prayed non-stop.
Our mud houses, with big rocks on top of the roofs, shook because of the huge sounds of those terrible planes just above our homes. Suddenly, they were gone. As we went outside, we saw many people chanting slogans with our parents and singing “Away with Passes.” Some said: “Verwoerd, leave the women alone.” Others said: “Mayibuye, i’Afrika.”
The event is important for me, for at least I also took part in the struggle, young as I was. I understood everything as I grew up, and my parents explained everything to me.