Sun Valley Heritage

SUN VALLEY HERITAGE your Passport to Kliptown gives you insight into an error by the Apartheid Government that benefitted 150 black families.

Sun Valley;

‘Sun Valley’, there were 111 houses built here between 1943 and 1945. The ‘red brick’ houses built by the Council and the white ones built for contractors, possibly tendering to the council. Those occupants that moved into ‘Sun Valley’ they all linked to the Council and all originate in ‘ematangeni’. They were all moved into Sun Valley in 1945 and they all proudly tell you that the Council referred to these houses as ‘show houses.

Most of the houses built in Sun Valley are larger than any other houses built in Soweto for us black people.

The primary school was built in 1945 and the Pimville Musi High School was built in 1948, it was only at this stage, that the Council decided that they were catering for permanent residents. These Sun Valley houses and the schools are the earliest history that is left in Pimville.

I believe that these ‘show houses’ were built, as an exercise on the viability and suitability of low cost housing for white veterans, returning from the Second World War, the black veterans were only given a bicycle and a tin of biscuits for their efforts.

This treatment still causes resentment to the English, in our communities.

Having experienced the conflict between the Council and the people in Orlando East, 1940 to 1945, I was very aware that the ‘Sun Valley’ development was planned for white people. Just look at the size of some of those houses, in comparison to the two roomed houses that were built in Orlando East, and even those built in 1946 in Orlando West.

The lack of extensions to the Sun Valley houses, compared to other areas in Soweto, indicates that these houses were of a size that could accommodate a family.

The green grass you see around the houses, if the residents do not want grass, they need to dig it out. The Council had excess water from the sewerage plant and irrigated pastures, where they ran herds of dairy cows.

Then one-day I got confirmation of my belief that that Pimville was originally proclaimed for purposes of a white township. I had visited Bra Peter, in house 34 regularly, and in conversation, Bra Peter tells me that during 1958, he was standing watering his front garden, hose-pipe in his hand, he looked up the road, and there, these three long black limousines come driving towards him, they stopped just outside his gate and everyone gets out.

Bra Peter looked, he was not surprised, he was very aware of the Government questions about Sun Valley that were not answered, it is the Minister of Bantu Affairs and Development, Dr. de Wet Nel, the BAD minister. He walked up to Bra Peter, short, fat, round face, white curly short hair, he wore glasses, black suit, thin grey tie, black shoes.

‘Waar is die Baas’, the Minister asked, he does not even say hello.

He looks at Bra Peter, Peter looks at him, and pointing a finger to his chest, Peter responds, ‘I am the boss’.

The Minister looked at him; he could not believe his ears.

‘No man, I am not talking about you, I am looking for the White Boss’, came the angry reply.

‘There is no white boss here’. Peter replied.

‘Where is he then?’ the minister snapped back.

‘There is no white boss here’ Peter replied, enjoying the direction that things were going.

‘Whose house is this then?’ he enquired abruptly.

‘This is my house,’ Peter said proudly.

Minister de wet Nel was shocked, he looked at Peter, then he looked at his followers and said, ‘Hier is groot vout, hoe kan a swart man in so ‘n huis bly?’

In English, ‘Here is a big mistake, how can a black man live in a house like this?’’ 

Then while Peter stood listening to this group of white men, standing around uncomfortably, afraid of the Minister’s anger, the Minister continued:

‘The section on the right-hand side of the Potchefstroom road is a ‘black-spot’. The section on the left-hand side of the Potchefstroom road is a ‘white-spot’. This should be white.’


They looked at each other, not a word was being said.

Then one of the younger white guys started to get involved in the discussion, telling the Minister that the Baragwanath Hospital, was on the left-hand side of the Potchefstroom Road, and that Chaiwelo, not yet built, but due to be built in the 1960s was also on the left-hand side of the Potchefstroom Road.

After more consideration, the Minister proudly announced, “Then we will have to move the Road”, and soon the Golden-Highway was built.

And then the Potchefstroom Road became the Old Potch Road, one of my favourite anecdotes.