Ezakheni is an African township that was built in the old KwaZulu homeland about 25km from the town of Ladysmith. The area was established in 1972 and its population at the time was in the region of 50 000. The township was built in two parts, a formal section with rented housing and a site and service section where people could build their own houses. The area was built on Trust Land acquired by the South African Development Trust (SADT) in the early 1960s, after some resistance from the local Farmers Association to the acquisition of more land in the district by the SADT.
African families from Ladysmith townships and surrounding ‘black spots’ were moved into Ezakheni in successive batches, and these included landowners. The removals to Ezakheni occurred in 1972, and continued throughout the 1970s. The following were the feeder areas that Ezakheni residents were evicted from:
Â· Vulandondo - a relocation resettlement outside Ladysmith, founded in 1963 for residents evicted from Khumalosville, a freehold area cleared in about 1972 to make a way for a dam.
Â· Umbulwane- a ‘black spot’ on the edge of Ladysmith whose squatters were evicted as ‘illegal tenants’ in successive batches in the 1970s.
Â· Rietkuil, a ‘black spot’ next to Ladysmith in 1975-76.
Moreover, large numbers of families were moved to Ezakheni from the municipal township of Steadville in Ladysmith. Properties evacuated in Steadville were rented out after the area was de-proclaimed and African people were relocated to Ezakheni in the 1970s.
African people in Roosboom, Good Hope and Welcome- all adjacent ‘black spots’ about 11km from Ladysmith, were all forcibly removed in 1976. The forced removal from Roosboom was described by Elliot Mngadi in the Association For Rural Advancement(AFRA) Special Report No.2, 1981. The threats of removal first arose in the 1960s, but this occurred only after Zakheni was established. In 1960, the local Health Commission was in charge of Roosboom, and in 1965 their houses were numbered.
The area was the first among Ladysmith freehold areas to be de-proclaimed, in 1970. Then in 1975 landowners were given expropriation notices followed by the removal of both the landlords and squatters. White farmers and businessmen of Ladysmith gave various reasons for their evictions. Roosboom was in a White area, too close to the main road and the houses were unpleasant to passing motorists, and the White farmers complained of burglaries. Moreover, the land was also coveted by industry and commerce. These were some of the reasons amongst others that lay behind the evictions and forced removals. The total population removed from Roosboom, Good Hope, Welcome together with Rietkuil, was recorded as 7 353. More removals occurred from other areas. About 2 856 residents of Crieman,- a ‘black spot’ about 15km north of Ladysmith were moved to Ezakheni in 1978.
Ezakheni was one of the large townships of KwaZulu outside of the metropolitan area of Durban with a population estimated to be around 50 000 during a survey conducted by the Surplus People’s Project (SPP). The area was earmarked as an “industrial development point” which was part of the government’s new decentralisation proposals of April 1982. The Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce and the Town Council both touted its workers as the largest labour force in the province. Ezakheni was created to accommodate and control Ladysmith’s labour force and their families within KwaZulu.
• Forced Removals In South Africa – The Surplus People’s Reports Report Vol. 1, January 1983, p.15
• Forced Removals In South Africa – The Surplus People’s Reports Vol.4, (Natal), January 1983, pp.332-333,335,337&350