In 1957, Indians families arrived in the military camp, brought on trucks by the apartheid government as a temporary solution to accommodate Indian people who were without shelter.
They were allocated to huts fenced with barbed wire and cordoned off from ammunition manufacturing plant nearby. Along the wall separating the camp and the ammunition factory, a deep trench had been dug that made it impossible to cross over from one side to another.
Having stayed in the camp as a young boy, Rasheed shared his memories of the military camp.
The huts were made of asbestos, 7metres long, divided into two curtains. In one side was Rasheed and his family of 11; on the other, another family. Toilets were outside, separated between males and females. As a young boy in the military camp he was frightened by what he calls “spooks”, the fear of spooks was exaggerated by the presence of furnace which was said to be used to cremate dead soldiers.
More fear faced children since they now had a 3km walk to school through long grass infested with snakes. They also had to jump the railway line.
While children walked to school, fathers and mothers who were fortunate to still be employed after the removals used the train from Vereeniging to travel to work. In comparing distances, Sophiatown was far closer to Johannesburg than the military camp, so those living in the camp had to travel a far longer distance to work than they travel to Sophiatown. This was also true for those families moved to Soweto.
Finally, some four years after being moved to the barracks, families were finally allocated housing from 1961. The bantu affairs, Bantu Settlement board had built detached and semi-detached four-roomed houses for the Indians community now permanently located in Lenasia township.
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