In the footsteps of liberation

Tsepo Moerance of 045.Com Tours and Events during the CHDM guided tour of the Chris Hani Liberation Heritage route  Picture: ZOLILE MENZELWA
Tsepo Moerance of 045.Com Tours and Events during the CHDM guided tour of the Chris Hani Liberation Heritage route Picture: ZOLILE MENZELWA

IN ANTICIPATION of Tourism Month which started yesterday, the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) organised a guided tour of the Chris Hani Liberation Heritage Route (CHLHR) focusing on the former Lukhanji municipal area in the new Enoch Mgijima Municipality, on Tuesday.

Tour guide Tsepo Moerane of 045.Com Tours and Events said Komani had four national heritage sites. The first included the Walter Everett Sunken Gardens, town hall, museum and the Tembisile Chris Hani Hexagon. The tour started at the gardens before going to the hexagon and later to Mlungisi.

From the hexagon, the tour went past the police station to the Victoria Bridge.

“This bridge was used to separate the town from the township during the apartheid days. If a black person was caught on the town side of the bridge, he could be arrested. Only one man – Meshack Pellem – could cross that bridge and not face consequences,” Moerane said.

He said Pellem, after whom a street in Komani has been named, was a businessman and one of the ANC founders.

In Scanlen Street, one of the streets adjoining Nonesi Mall now lined with shacks that serve hawkers, Moerane said the black elite could be found, including former president Thabo Mbeki’s family home. He said this was before the Group Areas Act was passed.

Driving up Victoria Road, the “tourists” were told it was used to divide the black and coloured communities.

A stop was made at the corner of Victoria Road and Scanlen Street where the Church of God and Saints of Christ, founded by Prophet Enoch Mgijima, has been built following the Bulhoek Massacre. The church is popularly known as KwaSirayeli.

“When the church was founded, it was based in Bulhoek in Ntabelanga. People would flock to Ntabelanga for the Passover period and this is when apartheid police shot and killed people in numbers,” Moerane said.

He said the church then moved to the current site, adding that “the prophet did not die there but legend is that he was also shot at, but that the bullets could not hurt him”.

Further up the road, Luvuyo Lerumo High School (previously known as Nkwanca), was pointed out. Moerane said the school was established by Mina Tembeka Soga in 1942.

Soga, who lived between 1893 and 1981, revealed she was born in the Komani district. After a Scottish Presbyterian mission education, she became a teacher and attended the 1938 Tambaram meeting of the International Missionary Council as an official delegate, the first African woman to represent the continent at a world missionary conference.

The tour also went past the Nonzwakazi Methodist Church where 11 people were killed by the apartheid police on November 17 1985.

The tour ended at the Mendi Creche next to the Mlungisi police station. The creche was built to honour locals who had died during the sinking of the SS Mendi in 1917.

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