About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

18 Nov 1995: Thokoza Residents

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Click here for Overview of the year

(Buddy Sekatane, Thabile Sekatane, Alfred Mogale)

1. Buddy Sekatane

POM     Maybe first you could just tell me your name and a little bit about yourself, where you are from, what you are doing, so I have some little bit of background.

BS     My name is Buddy Sekatane. I am working in Alberton at Pick 'n Pay, working as a Floor Manager. I am from Soweto and I have married here in Thokoza, that's where we are staying now, in Thokoza. The place is all right since after the violence and whatsoever.

POM     It's much better?

BS     Yes it's much better.

POM     Were you living here during the violence?

BS     Yes I was here during the violence.

POM     A lot of people were killed.

BS     Yes a lot of people here were killed and a lot of people lost their families and their houses which have never been repaired, even now it hasn't been repaired. People have never been back into the places where they are living now.

POM     Why?

BS     They are still scared to go back to their houses.

POM     That's in this area?

BS     That's in this Thokoza area.

POM     That's in this Extension?

BS     Phenduka.

POM     This is where there is still a lot of division between the hostel dwellers and members of the community?

BS     Yes there is still a division between the hostel dwellers and the members of the community because members of the community are still scared to go back into their houses because they are scared of the hostel dwellers because there is no trust.

POM     Now where are they living at this point?

BS     They are living in tin shacks. They have built the shacks into their families and some other people they have just housed them to build some shacks.

POM     Yes and the shacks are built around here?

BS     Yes.

POM     So is it as you go deeper in that it becomes more dangerous? Is it dangerous here?

BS     It isn't that dangerous. The only thing is the fear of the people to go back as they have seen the fight before that it could affect their lives.

POM     Now Bennet was saying that in his area that the level of crime has dropped a lot, that it's really quite safe even to go out at night and to go about at night, that unlike Johannesburg or Cape Town or Durban or wherever, that there's no fear of crime as such here, that there's not the very high level of crime? Is that right?

BS     It is right. If I can say that, the level of crime has dropped a lot because most of the people they can walk at night and the crime has dropped a lot. It's only the gun shooting at night whereby they don't even shoot anyone, it's just to scare the people to go and sleep.

POM     Just to scare the people to go asleep? Who does the gun shooting?

BS     Ordinary people.

POM     And they shoot just to make people go asleep?

BS     Yes but it's late and in fact they cannot go at night because of the people. You might be called in any case that night.

POM     So you stay in?

BS     Yes I'm staying in.

POM     So you work in Alberton?

BS     Yes it's in Alberton, yes.

POM     What time do you have to leave here in the morning?

BS     I leave here round about seven.

POM     And do you go by taxi?

BS     Yes I'm taking a taxi.

POM     And what time do you get home about?

BS     Nine, sometimes I'm coming back at nine.

POM     Nine o'clock at night?

BS     Yes.

POM     That's a long day.

BS     Yes that's a long day.

POM     And do you have your evening meal then after nine o'clock?

BS     Yes I do have my meal after nine o'clock, as I'm used to.

POM     Is Pick 'n Pay a good employer?

BS     Yes Pick 'n Pay is a good company in fact especially with the benefits for the health and housing schemes.

POM     So you have a health scheme?

BS     Yes we do have a health scheme.

POM     And do they have a housing scheme too?

BS     Yes they do have a housing scheme.

POM     How does that work?

BS     They help the people with the deposit of the house and they do subsidise the people with the houses.

POM     One question that I have been asking everybody that I've been interviewing, and I've been interviewing people since 1989, is what has changed in your life first since the release of Nelson Mandela and then since the elections in 1994? What's changed?

BS     So far what I can tell you is that it's only a few things that have changed and we cannot expect things to change as quick as we are expecting. Like the clinics is a thing that has been changed and the schooling which is coming better, but so far a lot of things haven't been changed whereby it is good for the clinics but now the most important thing is where the people are sleeping, where the people are staying, where it's a big problem.

POM     Housing?

BS     Housing, yes. There are a lot of people who are suffering with housing and whereby we think that the government it is so slow to help the people.

POM     Now you've got one of the more - the best or one of the best Premiers in Tokyo, at least he seems that way and the media have been very dynamic. Does he come out here and talk to people or does the Minister for Housing come out here and talk to people and go round the area and look at the housing conditions and look at the shacks?

BS     So far, no.

POM     So no-one has come?

BS     I think with this local government election I think it might be better because of the person that has been elected is amongst the community, he might be able to see what is happening because now Tokyo and them they are up there whereby they cannot be able to look at the people below.

POM     What do you expect to change with the local government coming into effect?

BS     What I expect to change is that local government has got to look at, like in the white areas this thing that they are checking the sewerage every week whereby it doesn't happen here in the township. You will find the water running through the streets. Before they can even build houses they have got the lights, they have got their securities and which it doesn't happen with us. We have got a new location here, they call it Extension 2, if you can go there it is really a disaster. Now it's raining you cannot even walk into that location, but it's a new location where people are paying points and in their points I think there is some money which they have paid to pave the street, to have the tidy street, but they haven't got anything you see.

POM     Have they been paying this money and is this Extension being built by the Gauteng government?

BS     No it has been paid by the so-called De Klerk's government.

POM     OK. But no improvements have been made?

BS     No improvements have been made yet. So what we're looking for, because of this local government that has been elected now, we see that such things must happen.

POM     You're being very patient. In fact 18 months is not a long time, but how long do you give the ANC to start really producing, that is where you see houses going up, where you see schools getting better, where you see services getting better? How long do you give them before they have to really start showing that they are doing things for the community?

BS     I think from the beginning I can say three years.

POM     That's from 1994 till 1997?

BS     Yes.

POM     So if at the beginning of 1998 nothing is happening what will happen?

BS     I really cannot say. You know people lose trust in the government that they have elected because they have promised a lot to them but now for three years it will be too long for them not to fulfil their promises.

POM     Say 1999 comes and there is a new election, as there will be, who do you have to vote for? Are there any circumstances under which you would vote for the National Party?

BS     For the National Party?

POM     Yes.

BS     No, no, no.

POM     Never?

BS     Never ever because it has oppressed us for quite a long time.

POM     Is there any way you would ever vote for the IFP?

BS     No.

POM     Never?

BS     Yes.

POM     Is there any way you would vote for the DP?

BS     DP? I might.

POM     But they're so small.

BS     Small, but I might.

POM     You might, OK. Is there any way you would vote for the PAC?

BS     Yes I can.

POM     But they're small, very small too. So the only party you're left to vote for is the ANC?

BS     Only with the promises that they have promised us to give it to us then therefore we can vote for them.

POM     So if they have not fulfilled their promises by 1999 who would you vote for in 1999?

BS     Really I cannot say but I even think that I won't even vote for any party because it will be stupid to vote for any party because now they will be making a fool out of us, because each and every party will promise you that they will do this and this and this and at the end you don't benefit anything. You are just wasting your time to vote for them.

POM     So how do you feel differently since apartheid or at least the trappings of apartheid were abolished and one person one vote came in? Do you feel a more free person and if you do how do you feel more free?

BS     What I can say is that apartheid is not dead yet. We are still oppressed.

POM     Could you elaborate on that a little?

BS     Yes, especially on the job level, on the street, the white man still thinks that he is a white man and he can kick a black man whatsoever at the back in fact.

POM     Have you found that white people in general still treat you very badly?

BS     Yes they are treating us very badly as I am working here in Alberton and I can see them, whereby there are a lot of AWBs, I can say that, and whereby they still think that they are the boss. Even when you speak to them they say this land is still belonging to us.

POM     They do?

BS     Yes.

POM     Now in your job, you're a Floor Manager so you have responsibility over other people, right?

BS     Yes, you have got to look after the customers even if the customer is wrong.

POM     Do you find it difficult sometimes dealing with a customer who is being racist and insulting and at the same time you've got to smile and look at the sign that says the customer is always right?

BS     I don't find it difficult because I have been to several courses whereby even if he can swear and he can do that, it is his sworn attitude in fact, I do treat him the way I treat him as he is a king and automatically he feels stupid because he can see that I am still smiling at him even if he swears at me. But when he speaks to his wife about this he cannot say whatever he said to me.

POM     So you think apartheid is still alive?

BS     Yes.

POM     Do you ever want to live in, say, a suburb of Alberton, a white suburb, or would you prefer to live here in Thokoza among black people with a better house, better facilities, better everything? Which would you prefer to do?

BS     I prefer to live here in Thokoza with better facilities, yes and better life compared to staying in Alberton suburbs whereby I won't live a better life there because there will be a lot of tension, racism and it will take long before it can come out, it will stay there. Even if you can take one white man and he must come and stay here in Thokoza, racism will stay being there. Yes. The way they have treated us we will also treat him in the very same way. We won't treat him differently because we can forgive but we will never forget.

POM     Do you have children?

BS     Yes.

POM     Percy(?) is one. Is she going to school yet or is she too young?

BS     No, the other one goes to school.

POM     Does she go to school in Thokoza?

BS     In Thokoza.

POM     Is it an all black school?

BS     Yes it's a black school.

POM     Do you think the education she is getting is as good as the education she would get if she was going to a mixed school?

BS     No it's not, it's not good at all.

POM     It's not good?

BS     Yes.

POM     Now why can't you send her to a mixed school in, say, Alberton?

BS     It's very expensive whereby I cannot afford it.

POM     Is that because of the transportation cost?

BS     The transportation cost, the uniform cost and the school fund is very expensive.

POM     Even for a Model C school? I'm not talking about a private school, I'm talking about in a state school, you still have to pay some money?

BS     Yes you still have to pay a lot of money whereby we cannot afford it and whereby we are not even earning a lot of money where we are working.

POM     The children of most parents in the townships, or at least Thokoza, are still going to all black schools which are inferior?

BS     I can say 95% of the school kids are still going to the black schools. Only 5% go to multi-racial schools.

POM     So where is the new South Africa?

BS     Not yet. That's why I said we are still oppressed and apartheid is still there living. There are no changes that I can see. I don't know the next person but there are no changes so far.

POM     What do you think must be done? Let me put it this way: here you have President Mandela, probably the most admired person in the world, and yet he is President of a country where you are saying apartheid is still alive, oppression is still alive, there are still no job opportunities for black people, white people still think they are superior, white people still control almost everything, so what's so great about Mandela?

BS     We should not put the blame to the President because now he's up there. He cannot look after each and every detail as he's got his Premiers who have got to look after all these problems. He cannot solve all these problems. As I said earlier on let's give this new government three years whereby they have got to sort out all the obstacles that they've got, then after three years then we can see where are they getting. So that's what I can say. We cannot blame him in fact.

POM     Do you think Tokyo Sexwale is doing a good job?

BS     I think yes he does do a good job on his side whereby he also is far away from us also.

POM     So you still feel very distant from him?

BS     Yes it's a big distance, from Tokyo Sexwale to us it's a big distance.

POM     And local government is supposed to fill this gap?

BS     Yes they have got to fill that gap. I can put it like this, we are just like workers and we had a manager and whereby we needed a supervisor, whereby now I think we have got the local government whereby it's a supervisor, we've got to report to them and it must go like a channel to Tokyo and it goes to the President whereby they can do the job easily.

POM     There's been a lot of talk particularly in the last six months about the RDP. Has the RDP made any real impact in this area or is it still kind of a pipe dream?

BS     I can say still kind of a pipe dream because there's nothing materialising that you can see that this is RDP doing a good job.

POM     Sorry, I'm repeating a word because sometimes the tape, if you could even come in a little bit closer to me. I don't want to do all this interviewing and then find that I can't hear you on this rainy day in Thokoza. So what about the police? Are the police here any more trusted now than they were before the elections?

BS     I can say the police are very good, they are doing a good job now.

POM     And are they trusted by the community?

BS     Yes.

POM     I suppose the funny thing I find is that, as I was saying to Bennet, all we hear about all the time in The Citizen and The Star and The Sowetan and you name it, the radio, the television, is all about the awful level of crime and you are saying crime isn't the big issue out here in Thokoza. Is that right?

BS     It is right. In fact the police are trying their level best to stop the crime and the crime went down a lot especially in Thokoza.

POM     So do you feel safe living here?

BS     It's very safe to live here.

POM     Would you go to Bennet at night and leave your door unlocked or would you always lock the door?

BS     No, no, that I don't do.

POM     You don't feel that safe!

BS     No that one cannot really do.

POM     So what has improved?

BS     With policing?

POM     No, with everything in your life. Do you feel a freer person? Do you feel more that this is your country now?

BS     What I can say is that I am not yet feeling free. I still feel that we are still oppressed in fact, I am not free at all.

POM     Would you say that reflects the opinion of most of the community? In a sense you would be one of the lucky people, you have a good job with benefits. A lot of other people in the community must have no jobs, live in shacks. When you interact with them how do they feel? Do they feel oppressed too?

BS     They do feel oppressed too because now they are not working and there is nowhere they can get a job and it's one of the things that caused crime in fact. Most of the people are blaming the people who are causing crime because now there are no jobs. People, they have got no money, they cannot feed themselves, and whereby they say let me go and commit a crime whereby even if I can get arrested I'll go to jail and then I'll get something to eat, compared to I'm not working, I'm staying here and at night I don't eat, in the morning I don't eat, what must I do? The family is starving, so what must I do? That's what's causing crime in fact.

POM     So do you look to the future with optimism? Do you think the ANC is going to be able to pull it off? And what should they be doing that they are not doing?

BS     I cannot tell, as I said all the powers are in their hands whereby they have got to take all their powers into their hands and try to have the community as they have promised the community to help them and the community are trusting them that they will help them. So what I can say, even the community are still giving them a chance to help them.

POM     Would you say when people voted here, which they did overwhelmingly for the ANC in Thokoza, it was like a vote to give them another chance, saying we will give you another couple of years to make things work?

BS     When they were voting for them?

POM     When you voted for them this time? I know you're ANC. How do I know that? When you went into the polling booth, now you voted for the ANC in 1994, they had this government of national unity which is mainly an ANC government. Now you go to the polling booth and you say, I still feel oppressed, there is still apartheid, there is still lack of job opportunities, there is still racism, nothing has changed around me to any significant extent and I'm going to pull the lever for the ANC person again. Why did you do that?

BS     I will.

POM     But you did, like you did in the local elections.

BS     Yes.

POM     Why?

BS     Because I have still got a trust in them that when time goes on, because of now, the time that they have got it's so short, when time goes on they will be able to see what the people want. Especially with this local government the people will complain and those top guys they will listen and they will hear what the people want. In fact they know now, they know very well, they are from the struggle, they know very well what the people want, but now it is not very easy for them to do things at a gong just like that. Even Rome wasn't built in one day.

POM     But it never entered your mind to look at the PAC poster which said, "Don't be cheated twice" or "We told you so", and say well the PAC were right, the ANC promised all these things and they didn't deliver?

BS     In fact what I can say is that each and every one, if you are canvassing, if you want your side to win you will always promise a lot of things and at the end those things they don't have.

POM     Politics is politics everywhere in the world. In fact the most normal sign of a democracy when politicians promise things they don't deliver is when they start actually doing differently.

BS     Yes.

POM     Just to talk about the future, do you feel hopeful for the future for your children, that it holds out a better future for them than it did for you? Or do you think the problems are so great and so massive that it might take 25, 30, 40 years to sort them all out?

BS     For the future I think my kids might eat that fruit that we have been fighting for. My kids might eat that. But my fear is that the way South Africa will be by then with these drugs that are going on now.

POM     With the drugs?

BS     Yes, it's going to be worse whereby I don't think that even the policing will ever, ever stop that.

POM     Are there a lot of drugs in Thokoza?

BS     Not that much in Thokoza.

POM     But outside?

BS     But the drugs, the way they are coming in.

POM     To the country?

BS     Yes, to the country, it's going to be worse especially after maybe ten to fifteen years it will be worse.

POM     It will, yes.

BS     Maybe it's going to be like in America and whatsoever. People are going to die just like that with drugs.

POM     I think I will stay here. If I get you a passport for America - So that's kind of sad that you have struggled so much and yet you feel so guarded about what the future might hold for your children because of the new problems that are coming, that can't be very well dealt with by the police. What's the one biggest positive change that's taken place?

BS     The biggest positive change so far? Really I haven't seen it.

POM     What's your biggest disappointment?

BS     Biggest disappointment is the housing. There are a lot of people hurting, they haven't got a place to stay which is very important.

POM     In your house how many people are staying? You've got yourself, your wife, your two children.

BS     My in-laws.

POM     Your in-laws.

BS     You see this house is a four-roomed house. We are almost ten in the four-roomed house.

POM     Ten. It's a lot of people.

BS     It is a lot of people.

POM     Well I hope to come back to visit you again in six months. Bennet? Six months.

BB     That will be too long.

POM     It won't be too long, no, but just to visit you again and to see how you're doing. And thanks very much for talking with me. Could you write down your name and your address so that we have it?

2. Thabile Sekatane and Alfred Mogale

POM     You're not working?

TS     Yes, I'm not working.

SL     She's not working because the place of the woman is in the kitchen.

TS     Yes, that's what they say and it's wrong.

POM     Now you don't believe that? You don't believe that.

TS     Yes, I don't believe that.

POM     I know you don't. This is a rebel, I know it.

TS     I'm not in demand, I'm not working. What can I say? Nothing.

POM     Have you been looking for a job?

TS     Yes for a long time. I think it's now seven months I'm looking for a job but I can't find any job and I've got experience.

POM     This really interests me. When you go looking for a job, how do you look?

TS     I buy the newspaper and if I see the job then I just take the forms or make an application form then send it to them, then they send it to me, they said there's no job, regret. Now I'm selling liquor.

POM     That's OK.

TS     It's not OK. Do you think it's OK earning money and I need a house, I've got a son? We are staying here, we are about ten in this house. How can we do that? I want to be free. I don't want to stay with my Dad and my Mom, I want to be me, my husband and my child, that's all. I can't. He's the only one who is working. So that, I think he can say anything but this government to me it's not delivering anything.

POM     Come over here and say it.

TS     I don't want to talk.

POM     You're doing so much talking! I'd like to hear you when you are talking.

TS     They keep on promising us, promising, but they can't deliver.

POM     You're the wise man.

AG     I know exactly.

POM     Your name is?

AG     Alfred.

POM     Mine is Patrick and this is Sam, Laura and Silas, the boss. Have you been listening to what we've been talking about?

AG     Yes, though not from the beginning but half of the whatsiname I've heard.

POM     So, what would you say?

AG     What I was most interested in is, I call him my son, my son-in-law of course, he has said something, but I think he lacks somewhere, OK. Complain of housing and all the jazz when it's difficult to get a house, not difficult to get land but it's difficult to get money to build yourself a house. Should there be parity I believe it would be all right. Of course, now you take for instance my kid, she is graduated and a white man's kid has also graduated. They apply for a damn similar job, yes. My kid is going to get less, is going to get one eighth of what a white man is going to get, a white man's child is going to get.

POM     In wages?

AG     In wages yes. There is no parity. That's just what exactly I think deteriorates the whole situation. You say, for instance, I may not aim of extending this house because I haven't got money, but now possibly, as she says, she has said that now we are ten in the house staying with Daddy, staying with Mummy and the like and in this matchbox. But you could have extended this house, it could have been big and then each and every one could be accommodated. You are a foreman in a company, there is one white man in the company is also a foreman, you are doing damn similar job but when it comes to wages then there's a great gap, yes. They bring a white man in their company, you teach him the job, the next thing he's your superior, he gets more than you get but you have been his teacher. I love that one. That's not great. And then it's very interesting because now some of these guys in many companies are telling us now, look you voted, you're in the vote but the money still belongs to us, I'm the boss. And he's right. He's the boss. I can't do anything. He's my boss, I can't do anything. My vote meant nothing, it only survived our President, because now, OK, he's the boss, he's most recognised in the world. Am I then recognised in the world as a South African? Only those who are next to him, those who are in the departments I think they are getting something, but not all those who voted.

POM     Do you think there is such a thing as a gravy train?

AG     Gravy train? What kind of train is that one?

POM     That's a train with lots of gravy in tow.

AG     Gravy, meat gravy that we eat? What kind of gravy?

POM     Well you know what they mean by what they call 'gravy train', people who are making a lot of money in the new government and doing very well, living in fine lifestyles, got big cars and live in the northern suburbs.

AG     Yes exactly, exactly.

POM     But lost touch with many of the people. Do you think that's true?

AG     Yes that's true, that's true.

POM     So how as somebody who has lived through this whole era from the National Party government coming into power in 1948 and the imposition of the pass books in the 1950s, the influx control laws, as somebody who has lived through all of that, what change do you see now?

AG     Changes that now we have got, OK, there's freedom of speech that's the first thing, freedom of movement, that's the second thing. Those I think, those are most things that we have obtained, otherwise nothing.

POM     Are you disappointed?

AG     Well I am still disappointed. I am disappointed yes, but now not that much because to my opinion I still think, I hope that after 1999, after elections again we will still acquire something because this government of national unity try that and that and that and that and then we can't go that far. If at all there was a one-party government that's ruling I would think they would take their own decisions just like the Nationalist Party took its decisions and then ...

POM     So you think the ANC when it becomes the majority party must act more like the National Party did?

AG     More like the National Party did but in a democratic manner, yes in a democratic way, not exactly like how the National Party acted but in a democratic way. My belief is there should be equality under all circumstances. Education should be the same, same technology, same debt. As you have heard her saying that now she's been here for seven months and can't get a job it's because now they want her qualifications, she has matriculated, yes. The matric that she has passed, OK just imagine first, I was born 1937 and then the Standard 3 that I've passed during then, during 1950s, it's equivalent to our matric presently. Standard 3. I tell you I've got matriculants, I've got a boy who is doing a teacher's course and all the jazz, I can still teach him because we did TED education unlike this Bantu education that is in progress. So that was Transvaal Education Department which was equivalent to blacks and whites. I only did Standard 6 in my life, the last certificate that I had. But I'm telling you with the matriculants that we have now they are not even of my size when it comes to education and then now they want matriculants, you should have passed your matric and all that jazz. Yes you must pass matric, he has got a certificate. When he gets there he can't even fill in an application form. How do you like that one? He was right when he said educationwise it's still very poor, very, very poor and I don't think they will whatsiname it now, it won't easily be upgraded.

POM     It won't be easily upgraded?

AG     It won't be easily upgraded.

POM     Because?

AG     Who is going to upgrade it? We have got all the black teachers here and I still think there's some laws of discrimination because you can even, you as a white teacher, bring you here to come and teach, we might only be lucky that you give them the goods that we need. But, for instance, definitely here we have got a school here, when this school Londolozi High School they were doing part of technical subjects like motor mechanic, what, what, what, what, they were all white teachers. I went there, I took my kid there, he was there, there was nothing he gained. They used to draw, you know he was doing motor mechanic, draw a car engine for the whole year. I don't know whether it was proper. I went personally Alberton and there was the same technical school, they were doing the drawing and doing it practically, in practise, then they had to connect some irons and give them the school drivers and everything and they had workshops and the like and the like. Here it was only in theory which was done. I took him down to Daveyton, Sipingo, I took him there, the same thing happened. It was a white principal there, his Vice and everybody, only two black teachers. The same thing happened what happened here, they couldn't just improve anything. Definitely, OK, this was discrimination, because now that is not happening to white schools.

POM     Is that still happening?

AG     Well I haven't gone around because now I don't have any child so I don't have time to visit such schools because I don't have a child. But I believe it is still happening. That's my most belief definitely. So long as those teachers in an apartheid government are still there nothing will ever alter, never.

POM     So they must get rid of the teachers?

AG     I think the kind of teachers if the government could manage to pay them or whatever, those who were born and brought up somewhere not here in South Africa. I think those are the kind of the people who can deliver the goods because they don't have the basics of what was happening here in South Africa.

POM     Are you working?

AG     Yes I'm working.

POM     Working in Alberton?

AG     I am at Plascon Paint, paint company, Plascon.

POM     And where is it located?

AG     It's located in Alberton.

POM     So what time do you set out for work every day?

AG     Twenty past seven I start working.

POM     So everybody in the house is up at what time?

AGA     Everybody in the house? Here? No I've got only one son working. He's in the army and he starts about half past seven or so. He's not working here, he's in Lenasia but he travels every day. Half past five. With me it's near here. It's half past five and then I leave here, board my bus here at quarter past six.

POM     What time do you get back? What time do you get home?

AG     Oh I come home at about twenty to six usually. At any rate the thing is we organised a bus, a special bus that takes us from here only for Plascon Paints. Picks us up here, right at work and then picks us up from work and we're paying R100-00 every month for it, the workers are paying that.

POM     Are you a member of the union?

AG     Yes.

POM     Is it as good union?

AG     I don't know whether it's good. I would say it's a good union because at times it does, but so far I haven't prospered anything.

POM     Do you get any benefits?

AG     From the company?

POM     Yes.

AG     Yes there are benefits of course. Provident fund.

POM     Do you have health benefits?

AG     House benefits, no.

POM     Health?

AG     Health benefits yes we have got. We are paying for medical aid, that's our health benefit, yes.

POM      Do you think that health care should be free?

AG     Health care should be free? I wouldn't exactly emphasise that that much. Reading from the papers and the like and the magazines they tell us that now medication is very expensive but I would feel even though it shouldn't be that free if at all the company was paying the most and then I pay one eighth for my health care, then that would exactly be sufficient. It would be all right.

POM     Has there been any affirmative action, what they call affirmative action in your company in the last couple of years? Are there are more black managers, black supervisors?

AG     There are black supervisors, there are black foremen, there are black site managers in the factory which, of course, I term them as puppets.

POM     Because?

AG     They can't decide, they have got no decision making. They take instructions from above. So what do they enjoy then at the floor? They don't enjoy their damn job, not at all. That's why I term them as puppets. They have got no decision making - is he there? He's taking instructions, instructions down to the shop floor. When will he ever give any decision and build himself up to a certain standard of top management? He cannot.

POM     Has there been any narrowing of wages between blacks and whites?

AG     Gee, a vast gap!

POM     I asked the right question!

AG     A vast gap, a vast gap.

POM     And it's not narrowing?

AG     It's not now and by somehow or other ...

POM     Narrowing, is it getting smaller?

AG     No, no, it's not getting smaller, not so far, no, no, nothing. If you become, let's say, a foreman they give you an increase of R150-00.

POM     One hundred and fifty?

AG     Rands, on your wages.

POM     On a year or a month or what?

AG     For instance, let's say you are being promoted to be a foreman, for instance, say my company sort of make decisions their own selves and then say, OK, we give you this much as an increase to your grade of work. Right? That grade of work let's classify it now on grades and say you are in C bend. OK the last bend in our company it's A bend, then it becomes B lower and B upper. OK. They all end up there on the shop floor. Then a foreman, a supervisor B upper, a foreman is C lower and now he's being counted to be on the management side. Right? Then you get the white lady clerk that's B lower whose salary even exceeds a black foreman of a C lower grade. How do you like that one? That's crazy.

POM     So you will wait till 1999?

AG     That is just - I only think that would somehow materialise. But my most belief if definitely these whites guys are right when they say you voted, you have won the vote but the money is still ours. They have got all the mines, they have got all the factories, they have got everything and if at all the factory is yours and you are my boss you say I must do that, I should do it and then should I now and then they say, you fuck off, and what do I do? Nothing. If my union comes and says why should you fire this man, you must take him back to work, there are company policy laws, policy regulations. Yes there are company policies and then failing to take instructions is a straight dismissal. Yes.

POM     Failing to what?

BS     Failing to carry out a legal instruction from a superior.

POM     To carry out a legal instruction?

AG     That's how they term it, because you are not allowed to make your own decisions, then now it was fair and legal instructions. Then it's straight dismissal. So that still compels me to say, yes, then I just start wagging my tail when I see my boss. Yes boss, yes boss, yes boss.

POM     You're still doing that?

AG     What else can I do otherwise my family has got nothing? Sure, yes.

POM     This question that I asked Buddy, I would believe there are no circumstances under which you could vote for the National Party?

AG     No.

POM     Right? You would turn in your grave first.

AG     Exactly, because I still believe National Party is not only that now it has been 15 years in 48 years. National Party was there for 362 years, since the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck here, then it started until up to date.

POM     You wouldn't vote for the IFP?

AG     No. You know what IFP is?

POM     I'm afraid to ask.

AG     That's no political party, it's South African murdering party. I'm not exactly insulting them but that's what they are.

POM     So you'd vote for the DP?

AG     I would vote for the DP but the fact is it's also being a white led organisation and I wouldn't commit myself to that.

POM     That leaves the PAC and the ANC.

AG     The PAC it's all right but I don't agree with it's policies.

POM     But it's so small.

AG     It's so small but now the policies are not, to my opinion, they are not up to date. I don't want to drag anybody to the sea. I want we all to live in this land but now share it equally.

POM     So come 1999, your job situation is just the same as it is today, there is the same kind of inequality in wages, daughter can't get a job, there is no substantially better housing available, the roads aren't paved, the schools haven't got that much better, a little here, a little there, what do you do? What are your choices?

AG     Yes, for my choice I still think I will still vote for the ANC.

POM     So they can't lose?

AG     So they can't lose. I will tell you something, should they lose, we are getting back to the dompas, I am just afraid of that.

POM     Afraid of?

AG     Dompas you know, carrying a pass, you know that dompas which we were carrying.

POM     ID, yes.

AG     The old ID, the reference book. They used to call it reference book, we call it dompas. Dom means stupid. That was a stupid document in other words. I am afraid of that because that one was called dompas. Every time I'm staying here I must have a permit to get into Katlehong, just the street over there, that's Katlehong. This is the Germiston area, I must carry a permit or I'm going to be prosecuted. How do you like that one? Then a white man comes from German, he comes from Italy, he comes from England with that passport, when he comes he can travel South Africa, the whole of South Africa without him being asked, "Pass, special", whatever. I'm afraid of that so I must just vote for ANC so that those things we know they are gone.

POM     But you're afraid they could return?

AG     Yes definitely, with that man in power. May not believe in him for decades definitely.

POM     What do you think? Come on it's not fair - you've got lots of things to say. You're letting women down. I will be accused of women abuse. I will be told that the only people I talked to are men, they'll say you never talked to a woman. You've got to save me.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.