Long ago in The Lowvelder

MBOMBELA – As much as things change they tend to remain the same, the saying goes. Not many portray the being of a community at a certain point in time better than its local newspaper. Over the next few weeks we will page through an edition of what was then The Lowvelder/Die Laevelder of 1962. This was 54 years ago. For many of us, a lifetime.

Very similar to today, 1962 was a turbulent time in South Africa. Severing all ties with the British Commonwealth, a republic was called out the previous year. In January 1962 a much younger Nelson Mandela left the country for military training abroad with Umkhonto we Sizwe. Upon his return in August that year, he was arrested by the South African Police.

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In the same year, The United Nations began with sanctions to isolate South Africa politically and economically, and towards December the American human rights activist Martin Luther King, together with the ANC leader Chief Albert Luthuli, launched a Human Rights Campaign in which they appealed for “Action against Apartheid”.

The front page of Die Laevelder of Augusts 30, 1962 painted a totally different picture. The lead story was about a successful soil conservation conference held in Nelspruit.

That weekly edition was the first after the annual Orange Blossom Festival. The front page carried a photo of Miss Orange Blossom and her princesses after being crowned at a gala function in the city hall the previous Saturday.

Part of the festivities was a spectacular air show at the local airfield with another front-page photograph to match. These were all taken by H Strassberger, a local photographer who was often credited in The Lowvelder during the 1960s.

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The layout of the newspaper was much different than today. The front page was graced with quite a few community announcements and news snippets. Among those, in the edition of August 30, was a report on an elephant causing havoc in the Boulders area and a successful show of the Lowveld Garden Club at Kiepersol.

A man was killed when a truck carrying a generator overturned on the Nelspruit Road to Kaapmuiden, and a film society was formed for the Lowveld with its first meeting at the old Planters Club on the Yaverland Road on The Ridge outside White River.

It also reported about two men: Jerry Sibiya was sentenced to 14 years and five cuts with a cane for robbery, and his accomplice Jaoma Mnisi was sentenced to 12 year and five cuts.

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In addition to that, Judge de Vos presiding in Nelspruit at the time, sent both men to the gallows on an additional guilty verdict for rape. The two were found guilty for attacking an elderly couple near Sabie. The judge praised the police for their good work.

Also on the front page Stanley Motors, the Hillman agents in Nelspruit, offered
some deals for used cars standing on its floor down in Paul Kruger, close to the railway line.



Marius Bakkes

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