In 1893 the first 'locations' were established under the Kruger government - essentially non-white' areas. Three existed at the time, namely the 'Coolie Location', the 'Kaffir Location' and the 'Malay Location'. Fietas was known as the 'Malay location' because most of the people who lived there were 'coloured', 'cape coloured' or Malay.
When the 'Coolie location' was struck by bubonic plague in 1904, many of the evacuees moved to the 'Malay Location' (Fietas). By 1927, the racial character of Pageview had become racially mixed as a result of the unavailability of other legal, urban, 'non-white' living areas.
Fietas/Pageview therefore became an integrated community of people, including those of various racial descent, religions and professions. Workers, professionals, shopkeepers, sangomas and artisans lived amongst both mosques and churches. There were bioscopes, shebeens and corner cafes; alleyways, backyards and stoeps (patios) and the internationally famous 14th Street bazaar (see artist's redition of 14th Street).
Words are inadequate in capturing the dynamism and vibrancy of the area as it was experienced, particularly during its heyday between 1945 and 1960. To read more about the people, politics, legislation and removals during this period please have a look at the timeline.
Fietas was officially renamed Pageview on 23 February 1943, in honour of Mr. J.J. Page, the Mayor of Johannesburg at the time. In 1950, the Group Areas Act was passed and sections of Pageview declared 'White' areas, and many 'non-whites' living in the area were given eviction notices. The 'Africans' were moved to Soweto, the 'Coloureds' to the Western Areas and Indians to Lenasia. From 1964 to 1970, all remaining 'non-white' residents were evicted or forcibly removed.
The historical impact of the Group Areas Act exceeded the bulldozing of homes and the resettlement of residents. It brutally interrupted the development of an integrated national identity. This Act laid waste to a rich and dynamic cultural heritage, and led to the profound alienation of the people affected.
An interesting ‘heritage route tour’ of this area has recently started operating, The focus of the tour is on the ‘history of Fietas’ and it is led by former resident Feizel Mamdoo, the trail takes visitors through the once vibrant, cosmopolitan area.
The trail begins at the Market Theatre in Newtown, and ends in the Braamfontein cemetery, where tribute is paid to those who fought against unjust apartheid legislation.
The significance of this trail, states Mamdoo, is that "...with this trail we plan to reclaim our connection with our past and the positive ways in which it formed us."
Nazir Carrim (1990) Fietas, a social history of Pageview 1948-1988. Published by the ‘Save Pageview Association ’|Information received from the ‘Fietas Festival Programme’ organizers.|Madumo, L. (2007) "Discover the history of the old Fietas" [online] Available at: joburgnews.co.za [Accessed 20 February 2009]