On this day in 1955, apartheid’s police commanders went into Sophiatown in the morning hours when everyone was sleeping. They were armed with rifles, short guns and batons – anything to kill anyone who dared to resist their onslaught.
In between them and the residents were bulldozers, ready to mow down the houses.
The commanders held piles of lists of names and addresses of people to be evicted to Meadowlands in Soweto.
Their mission was to crush a vibrant society of musicians, artists, political activism and ordinary men and women going about their daily lives – one of the last remaining areas where Blacks could own homes in Johannesburg.
Five years earlier, with the introduction of the Group Areas Act, the Nationalist Party was able to purge Blacks from developed areas and move them into townships.
The eviction of Black residents of Sophiatown to Soweto took five years – from 1955 to 1960 in which time 65000 people lost their homes and their belongings.
Read more on the destruction of Sophiatown here