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The following letter, which Sheril wrote to accompany her mother's land claim application, was used as an example by members of the Land Claims committee to encourage other claimants to submit similar letters. Her heartfelt plea for justice struck many chords, and has inspired people to pen their own recollections of their lives before their communities were dispossess:
With forceful removal the community as well as family life were totally destroyed. Many were forced to live in sub-economic housing which were to my mind fit for horses. With sub-economic areas a stigma arose, e.g. "low-class, poor/poverty stricken, ganglands", this is what people perceived it to be.
Many parents were forced to work, leaving children to become latch-key children.
I was one of them.
My happiest memories are those live out in Harfield. You felt loved and secured because family and friends were all around you and always cared. There was always a hype of activities taking place. During the week children would either be cared for by mothers, grandmothers, aunts, neighbours or at the neighbourhood creche known as the Janet Bourhill Institute. The clinic was housed in this building for years before it moved. Opposite it was the tennis court and library where too you could hear the voices of children being quite happy playing and enjoying themselves. Second Avenue park was always full with playing children.
Clarewoods soccer grounds were another attraction where soccer players and fans came together to enjoy the soccer game.
Sunday mornings the Church bells would be ringing and everyone who was on their way to church would know "hey, I better move on or I'll be late".
Sunsets were the most beautiful time of the day.
Everybody would be sitting on their front porch, or fondly known as the "stoep" while children be playing "bok-bok, kennetjie, Kimberley-Jim, drie-blikkies" and so on. Then the neighbours would have a bit of a chit-chat from across the road. How I miss those days.
And then, the end of year activities were also happy moments to remember. The "Coon" carnival, klopse, nagtroepe, Christmas bands. Yes, these are the things I remember. Every time I go back there I can still imagine these things.
In Hanover Park one felt unsafe and unsure about your neighbourhood. Overnight one had to become strong and a fighter, to survive the horrors of what was going on around you. I felt insecure, my self-esteem took a terrible knock as well as that of my siblings. To change our situation we were forced to study and get an education. There were many who did not have the opportunity to go this route. I did this to restore my dignity. I feel that the Harfield community, along with many in our country that were forcefully removed by the apartheid government was greatly done in.
And it is high time that this injustice be put right. We were robbed of a blessed future in Harfield. This saddens me terribly.