African Oral Narratives
Military Intelligence in Apartheid-era South Africa

About 'Forgotten' Voices

This is a collection of 55 interviews with residents in three poor communities in South Africa, conducted by Dr Dale McKinley and Ahmed Veriava in 2007 and 2008 on behalf of the South African History Archive (SAHA). This research project was an attempt to contribute to an 'alternative history of the South African transition' by capturing 'histories from below' of the South African transition in an attempt to provide a meaningful cross-section of rural, urban and peri-urban realities in South Africa's post-1994 political, social and economic history, as lived and experienced by the oppressed and the marginalized majority.

The three communities that participated in this project are:

Maandagshoek -- a rural community of several thousand people, located in Limpopo province, in an area historically known as Sekhukuneland, formerly part of the apartheid homeland of Lebowakgomo. Two large and extremely profitable mines have been in operation in the community since the early 1990s but with little benefit to the community. Unemployment is very high and the state of basic services in most of the community is deplorable.

Rammolutsi -- a peri-urban community located adjacent to the small farming town of Viljoenskroon in the Northern Free State. Rammolutsi was established many decades ago as a small 'black township' to service the needs of white Viljoenskroon. Prior to 1994, the majority of residents, most all of whom were either farm workers or workers in a local manufacturing plant. Since 1994 however, there has been a huge influx of people into Rammolutsi, mostly as a result of the mass evictions/retrenchments of workers from surrounding farms as well as the local manufacturing plant.

Sebokeng -- one of the oldest urban 'townships' in the mid-Vaal area (south of Johannesburg) of Gauteng province. Sebokeng was established under the apartheid regime as a home for workers servicing the large industrial plants in the area such as SASOL, ISCOR and later, SAMANCOR.

Key issues and themes emerging through the interview process included the escalation of unemployment and poverty largely due to the privatization of industry and job shedding in the farming sector, health concerns and the impact of the HIV – AIDS pandemic on the communities, reliance on social grants and small-scale farming, concerns around quality of education, and the provision of housing and failures in service delivery by the government.