‘They took the place from under our feet’

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“When I had to move away, I told my wife I was going to finish with the railways and started working for the same company where my dad worked in Ndabeni.

“I had to catch two trains, getting up in the early hours to catch the 5.05am train. It was a printing company making and printing the wrappers for sweets and chocolates.”

The fateful day when the removals became a reality is a painful memory but again Mr Ephraim recounts it with a sense of almost clinical recollection.

“On the day the word came that the people were coming to District Six to scrap all the houses, I rushed to get there.

“But I lost all my stuff. It was all gone by the time I got there.

“My dad was living there on his own and they had already bulldozed our house.

“All the furniture was gone and all our possessions from our life there. I felt so bad but what could I do? There was nothing left.”

Despite his losses he counts his blessings with his children: seven daughters and twin sons, who all live around the Kraaifontein area. “I have 19 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. The memories of my life are strong.

“I have still got friends in District Six and whenever I am in town I make a turn there, to visit my old friends.”

Many of his neighbours were moved to Mitchell’s Plain but Mr Ephraim says he had bought the plot in Eikendal where his house today stands as a young man in his thirties.

His wife is from Simondium near Paarl and their almost six decades of marriage have been happy ones, despite the hardship they withstood.

“Ons baklei nie, (we don’t fight) even though you get your ups and downs, and I try to give advice to others on how to keep the marriage going well.”

Through the tragedy of the upheaval, he says it is his family and their closeness that has kept him well and active.

““They took the place from under our feet but we managed to keep going,” he says.