Ebrahim Ahmed, a retired Capetonian, has uncovered a letter revealing how Apartheid era government had attempted to control racial interaction.
The subject of the letter had been the annual Christmas party for a well-known furniture store and its manager in Elsie’s River, asking for permission to use the Claremont Civic Centre.
They had to request special permission to use the venue due to apartheid law requirements, in order to allow for people of different race groups to attend the festivities together.
The venue had been in what was deemed a white area according to the former employee, who had discovered the letter among his belongings.
Ahmed had revealed that the letter must have been caught up with his own things when he had left the company and that he believes his manager had hid the letter from staff.
He said that his coworkers had gotten along very well, despite the government's classification of them.
Ahmed had said that the workers had been looking forward to the party but had been surprised when white colleagues did not attend.
The letter shows that the Department of Community Development and State Auxiliary Services had given the go-ahead for the party, but on the condition that white colleagues did not take part in the dancing.
"A concession has been granted to you on behalf of Lans Wanda Furnishers to lease the Claremont Civic Centre and for approximately 160 Coloureds and 40 Indians to occupy the hall on 17 December 1980 together with approximately 10 Whites on the occasion of a Christmas party, provided the whites do not participate in the dancing."
In retrospect, he understood why some of his friends had not been at the celebration, choosing to stay away then to taint the proceedings.
This saddened him immensely as numerous company functions had been a success, with everyone enjoying themselves.
"Under normal circumstances, they would have been there," he said. "I feel shattered."
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