Sub categories:
Maritzburg on a war footing
Added: 16 Sep 2013
A "small and somewhat insignificant part of the Empire". This was the image painted of Pietermaritzburg in a Natal Witness leader the day after war had been declared in Europe on September 3, 1939. It was true enough. But although far from any front line, within a year Pietermaritzburg was a significant garrison town on a war footing.

A tale of two phoenixes: the Colonial Building and its architect William Powell
Added: 18 Dec 2012
On 12 June 2009 the Colonial Building in Church Street, Pietermaritzburg, one of the city's most impressive buildings and under renovation, went up in flames. It was later discovered that most of the damage was done to the renovated sections. Ironically, the danger of fire had been a major concern of the building's architect William Henry Powell when it was under construction in 1899.

Remembering and honouring the past
Added: 02 Nov 2012
To mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the family farm Mooiplats, near New Hanover, Johan and Carol Scheuer had a memorial bell tower built at the entrance to their property and held a special commemoration.

The dramatic life of Bertha Slosberg
Added: 02 Nov 2012
Bertha Slosberg, an impresario involved in the making of the film 'King Solomon's Mines' outside Pietermaritzburg in 1937, wrote her autobiography at the age of 30, but seemed to disappear from sight. Or did she?

The patience of a watchmaker
Added: 27 Oct 2012
If you live in downtown Church Street in Pietermaritzburg you can set your clock by Bobby Naidoo who has run his watch repair shop, Empire Watchmakers, from the same premises for 60 years.

Spreading cheer for 69 years
Added: 27 Oct 2012
Deepavali Cheer Society volunteers gather annually to pack food hampers for the needy at this festive period in the Hindu calendar.

The forgotten activist
Added: 27 Oct 2012
Kistmah Chetty's story of unrecorded bravery is one of many. In pride of place in her living room was a photograph of her with other women passive resisters and her certificate from the Natal Indian Congress signed by Monty Naicker and Yusuf Dadoo.

Threat to rare Voortrekker house
Added: 27 Oct 2012
The Voortrekker home of Piet Retief's widow at 225 Church Street, Pietermaritzburg owned by the Hathorn family, was under threat of demolition in 2004.

A quiet influence
Added: 27 Oct 2012
Phaljeth Mohan, also known as Booby Bookhan, was a quiet philanthropist who helped educate a host of local professionals without anyone knowing. He died in 2007 at the age of 84.

ANC stalwart honoured at memorial service
Added: 27 Oct 2012
ANC stalwart Lutchmee Chetty was imprisoned in the passive resistance campaign in 1946. She died in 2007 and left a request that her coffin be draped in the ANC flag.

From darkness to light
Added: 27 Oct 2012
Andrew Ragavloo's book Richmond: living in the shadow of death tells the story of dark events that unfolded shortly after South Africa became a democracy.

Two women's long lives of service and struggle
Added: 27 Oct 2012
Two Pietermaritzburg women, Bhanu Ghela and Gourie Ramdeen, veterans of the country's non-racial struggle for democracy who were imprisoned for their beliefs, died in 2007. Tributes at their funerals served as a reminder of the city's rich political history.

When Hollywood came to Cato Ridge
Added: 26 Oct 2012
In 1954 the cameras of Twentieth Century Fox were rolling near Cato Ridge, filming the African adventure "Untamed". Local resident Alexander Havemann worked on the film. Its stars were Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward, but as was normal at the time they did not travel to South Africa and locals were used as doubles.

Simple abundance
Added: 16 Oct 2012
Salt of the Earth was the expression that came to mind when journalist Nalini Naidoo met Mohan Singh. A hardworking employee at the Pietermaritzburg City Engineer's Waste Management section he had helped keep the city clean for nearly 50 years.

It was time to move on
Added: 15 Oct 2012
An era of farming in Richmond ended on a note of hope as Ravenor Nicholson said goodbye to Beaulieu, the farm that was his family's home for 153 years.

A busy doctor kept it all together in Pietermaritzburg
Added: 15 Oct 2012
Speak to activists of the anti-apartheid struggle in Pietermaritzburg and they will tell you of endless meetings at Dr Vasudeva Chetty's house in Mountain Rise that lasted into the early hours.

Stories from the grave
Added: 02 Oct 2012
Old cemeteries are an irreplaceable source of social history. Brian Spencer and Louis Eksteen highlight significant headstones in Pietermaritzburg's multi-racial Commercial Road Cemetery that bear such names as Sackville-West, Maritz, Buchanan and Caluza.

Secret world of stokvels
Added: 02 Oct 2012
Many more people have become involved in what was traditionally a women's enterprise. Stokvels are informal community-based savings schemes that have their roots in South African township savings clubs.

Emotional service for returning hero Mabhida
Added: 02 Oct 2012
The reclaiming of South Africa's liberation history moved a step forward in November 2006 when the exhumed body of Moses Mabhida began its journey home from Mozambique. Mabhida (1923-1986) had joined the Communist Party of South Africa in 1942 and after 1969 he became a key figure in the exiled ANC's intelligence and security department (NAT). In 1979 he succeeded Moses Kotane as general-secretary of the South African Communist Pary. He died after a heart attack.

Of stars and spirituality
Added: 01 Oct 2012
In 1999 Brother Neil Frank was the first priest produced by St Anthony's Church and Pietermaritzburg's first Roman Catholic Indian priest.

Making a fizz in the city
Added: 01 Oct 2012
Crerar's Minerals was established in Pietermaritzburg in 1900 and known as Crerar's Aerated Water. The business was first run from a backyard in Ackerman Street and was still functioning in the late 1980s. Bullseye Pop, Lime Squeeze and Cola Champagne were amongst the citý's most famous products.

Farewell, NU
Added: 21 Sep 2012
On December 31, 2003 the University of Natal ceased to exist, its four campuses merging into the new University of KwaZulu-Natal. Whatever the verdict on the old university's history, many staff and students linked their work to the struggle for freedom and social justice. Among them were John Aitchison, Thami Mseleku, Vaughn John, Sandy Joicelyn and Martin Wittenberg from the Pietermaritzburg campus.

Against all odds: Aurora Cricket Club 30 years on
Added: 21 Sep 2012
In October 1973 Aurora Cricket Club took to the field as the first multi-ethnic team in modern times to play in a white league in South Africa. This was prior to the brief period of normal cricket, after which Aurora affiliated to the non-racial Maritzburg District Cricket Union belonging to the South African Council on Sport.

The day the emergency was declared
Added: 20 Sep 2012
On June 12, 1986 a national state of emergency was declared by the South African government. In and around Pietermaritzburg at least 40 people were detained without trial that day. By the end of that month many more people had been held. Some of them reminisce 25 years later about their experiences.

The beginning of the end
Added: 20 Sep 2012
The 1960 State of Emergency, declared in terms of the Public Safety Act of 1953, affected the Natal coast and some inland areas following the anti-pass law campaign and Sharpeville massacre. It was finally lifted after four months on August 31, 1960. Throughout South Africa, 2 000 people were detained. This article describes the experiences of some of them in Pietermaritzburg.

The Seven-Day War: March 25-March 31, 1990
Added: 06 Sep 2012
"Through my lens I developed keen insights into the injustices of apartheid, which spurred me to capture more visual proof" (Aron Mazel).
"The number of unanswered questions is as great as the evidence" (Christopher Merrett).

The Seven-Day War: after 20 years scarred survivors tell their stories
Added: 06 Sep 2012
Twenty years after the Seven-Day War tore the Edendale Valley apart, the fatal conflict remained a painful part of Pietermaritzburg's history. Many of those who survived were still scarred.

A quiet, historic moment
Added: 06 Sep 2012
The conflict that raged in the Seven Days War of 1990 in the Edendale Valley was finally put to rest by votes cast in a ballot box in the 2011 local government elections.

Wildlife and wild parties at Thrash Hill
Added: 04 Sep 2012
As the account of the 'horror house' in Chase Valley unfolded on the pages of The Witness, it morphed from urban legend about a gorilla abducting children in the late nineteenth century to a ghostly tale and then the story of a famous university student digs.

Horror house site identified
Added: 04 Sep 2012
Although no one has been able to corroborate the story of the gorilla that abducted two girls from a house in Chase Valley, the whereabouts of Oakwood, the house where the incident was supposed to have occurred in the late nineteenth century, has been identified. It was owned by the Coleman family.

Gorillas on rampage in Chase Valley?
Added: 04 Sep 2012
Gorillas in the mists of Chase Valley. Huge eyes at the window. A midnight abduction followed by mutilation and death. All the ingredients of a horror story, and this one is Pietermaritzburg's very own. It was first reported in The Natal Witness in 1948.

Midlands memories of Mandela
Added: 20 Jan 2012
On August 5, 1962 the car in which Nelson Mandela was travelling was stopped and the man dubbed the Black Pimpernel was arrested just outside Howick. For years nothing marked this historic site, then in 1996 a brick monument with a brass plaque was erected: it seemed an insignificant gesture. Now plans are underway to build a permanent museum.

Fedsem: mixing church and politics
Added: 14 Dec 2011
A new history of the Federal Theological Seminary led Michael Worsnip not only to remember his time there but to reassess the role it played in apartheid South Africa.

The little wooden church on the hill turns 100
Added: 14 Dec 2011
St Mary's, the little wooden church faced with malthoid, still stands 100 years on, hiding among the trees on the hill of Uplands Road, halfway between Hilton and Pietermaritzburg.

A history too painful to be remembered
Added: 13 Dec 2011
On the night of December 5, 1986, three trade unionists from Mpophomeni were killed on a quiet stretch of road in Lions River. This was one incident in the conflict around the strike at BTR/Sarmcol in Howick. Had the fourth person in that car not escaped, the story of the beginning of one of the most violent periods in the country's history would not have been told.

Veteran of the battlefields
Added: 05 Dec 2011

An integral part of battlefield touring in KwaZulu-Natal was George Chadwick. Stephen Coan looks at this undisputed expert on blood and thunder.

All that we need
Added: 14 May 2011
Bridget Krone sums up the advantages of living in Pietermaritzburg at the turn of the century.

Life in a city at war
Added: 14 May 2011
Cyril Hancock was a schoolboy at Maritzburg College when the Second World War broke out.

When blocks of ice were delivered by horse-drawn cart
Added: 14 May 2011
Certain sounds, scents and scenes evoke memories of Ann Brann's childhood in the thirties and forties in Pietermaritzburg.

A place where brickies and judges were equal
Added: 14 May 2011
Any dissertation on Pietermaritzburg in the fifties, writes D.C. Dunton, would be incomplete without a mention of Twiggie's Pie Cart.

Sun, sky, trees and grass
Added: 10 May 2011
A weekly walking group finds that simple pleasures are abundant in the hills around Pietermaritzburg. Reg Gush describes flora, fauna and other discoveries.

Great cheer at old Grey's
Added: 07 May 2011
Claire Nevill writes about Maritzburg in the late fifties when she trained as nurse at Grey's Hospital.

Grinding against the system
Added: 07 May 2011
Harassment and lack of facilities won't stop us from skateboarding, says schoolboy John Boardman.

A seat with a view
Added: 07 May 2011
Riding a bicycle through Pietermaritzburg can be hazardous but it is certainly worth the risk writes Joan Birch.

The immigrant's story
Added: 18 Feb 2011
Coming to Pietermaritzburg in the October of 1967 from a cold Vanderbijlpark (and an equally cold England some eight months earlier) was a contrast in culture. Passage from England to suburban comfort in Africa entailed some hardships.

Walking tall, riding high
Added: 18 Feb 2011
The emphasis was on an outdoors life when Chris Pretorius grew up in Walker Street in sixties Pietermaritzburg - stilt-walking, cycling and racing cars.

The city where I had my baptism of fire
Added: 16 Feb 2011
Once Pietermaritzburg was known as 'sleepy hollow' because nothing of note took place. Then violence erupted and the name Pietermaritzburg exploded in the headlines, not only in KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of the country, but around the world. We became known as the killing fields of the Natal Midlands. It taught Khaba Mkhize vital lessons in conflict resolution and made him a man of peace.

Making the man, keeping the boy
Added: 11 Feb 2011

John van der Ruit's Spud phenomenon, now three novels and a film starring John Cleese, is put into context.

Natal Afrikaners as loyalists during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)
Added: 11 Feb 2011

These individuals are sometimes referred to as hendsoppers or joiners, but Natal Afrikaner loyalists were neither. As British subjects they were expected by their government to remain, at the very least, neutral.

Leslie Weinberg (1923-2010)
Added: 11 Feb 2011

Leslie Weinberg was a prominent Pietermaritzburg lawyer. A member of the Springbok Legion and Torch Commando, he was also active in the Liberal Party, Five Freedoms Forum and Lawyers for Human Rights; and a founder member of Kupugani.

Deanne Myra Lawrance (1938-2010)
Added: 11 Feb 2011
Deanne Lawrance was a well-known teacher in Pietermaritzburg who chose to travel the less familiar way and challenged the old, the prosaic and the outworn. She was known for her Brookby Learning Project and interested in the concept of soul in education.

Warwick Antony Dorning (1954-2009)
Added: 11 Feb 2011
Warwick Dorning's final position was chief of staff in KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize's office. He had joined the public service from the defence force in 1987 where he had worked as a military historian and archivist.

All that we need
Added: 25 Jan 2011
My heart will always be here in Maritzburg. It is a town of quieter, more subtle pleasures. Pleasures that one can savour because there is not that restlessness which comes with too much choice. The Botanical Gardens features prominently.

Walking through the valley of death
Added: 19 Jan 2011
In 1998 a conference at the University of Natal looked at political violence in the Natal Midlands from 1984 to 1994. In his submission to the Truth Commission, Father Tim Smith, stationed at an Elandskop mission at the time, recounted some of the horror he saw.

The Zulus are coming
Added: 19 Jan 2011
After the battle of Isandlwana, city officials prepared for a possible invasion by building a laager in Pietermaritzburg. Each family was allowed to bring one servant to the main laager. All other blacks were to go to the jail or Fort Napier. Indians and Coloureds were allowed into the laager but neither they nor the servants could stay in any part of the buildings reserved for whites.

When the women said 'enough'
Added: 19 Jan 2011
When women ran into Pietermaritzburg's Retief Street beerhall in 1959, wielding sticks and beating patrons, it was the culmination of many frustrations. This incident sparked the Sobantu riots.

Still prisoners of the city
Added: 19 Jan 2011
Several German World War One prisoners are buried in Pietermaritzburg's cemeteries.

Handing down memories of a people
Added: 18 Jan 2011
How is the history of a pre-literate people preserved? This article looks at a chain of people, starting with a praise poet, who ensured that the story of the amaNgwane people is not forgotten.

The night the city hall burned down
Added: 18 Jan 2011
On the night of Tuesday 12 July 1898 it was the biggest show in town - the Pietermaritzburg city hall was burning down.

The Anglo-Zulu War's forgotten soldiers
Added: 18 Jan 2011
A book by Paul Thompson focused on an all but ignored aspect of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879: the role of Africans who fought on the side of the British. In the grounds of the Methodist Church in Georgetown stands their only monument.

When trams ran through
Added: 14 Jan 2011

The arrival of tramcars during the early 1900s signalled a new era of public transport for Pietermaritzburg. The first generation of trams had padded cane seats with swivel backs and it was a conductor's duty to stroll through the tram at the terminus throwing the backs over and announcing that the direction had now changed.

Wild waters that woke the city
Added: 14 Jan 2011

Floods have been a tragically regular occurrence in Pietermaritzburg. The Indian residents at the east end of town were the worst affected in 1947 and relief efforts for them were co-ordinated by the Communist Party, which three years later was forced underground.

The wagon driver who converted a bishop
Added: 14 Jan 2011

This article looks at the encounter in nineteenth century Natal between a black man, William Ngidi, and a bishop, John Colenso, which caused one of the best-known religious controversies of the Victorian age.

Pietermaritzburg, 1990: the fractured city
Added: 30 Nov 2010
This report examines one city of South Africa which has demonstrated the appalling costs of a land divided: a fractured, fragmented society in which the people were systematically separated from one another by a myriad of laws based on race.

Added: 30 Nov 2010

This book is a farewell salutation to a friend, a celebration of the life of one of the great sons of the Church of the Province of South Africa. It tells of the shocking murder of a parish priest, Victor Africander, in Imbali in 1990.

Triumph of the 'glum people'
Added: 26 Nov 2010
The Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness (PACSA)has been committed to raising issues and encouraging Christians to act. This article records their trials and triumphs.

Long road to recognition for black farmers
Added: 24 Nov 2010
Production for markets by black farmers started as far back as the mid-19th century, despite opinions that black people couldn't farm properly. This article records their repression by the white settler government.

Prized family memories tell of past power shifts
Added: 24 Nov 2010

Established families in KwaZulu-Natal keep written records of the past. But the stories passed down orally by black families are less well-known to historians.


Pentrich families lay their claims
Added: 24 Nov 2010

The final day of 1998 was the last chance that displaced families formerly living in Pentrich, Pietermaritzburg had to seek recompensation for their forcible removal. This article looks at the events leading up to 1965.

Rendering language into writing
Added: 24 Nov 2010

An historical photograph is a reminder of a conference held at the Education Office in Pietermaritzburg in March 1906 to discuss a standard system of recording the Zulu language (isiZulu) in writing.

Early beginnings of the Indian press
Added: 23 Nov 2010

By the 1890s, Indians who had come to Natal earlier in the century as indentured labour for the sugar farms were beginning to feel a need for their own newspaper. This article records the history of Indian Opinion.

Days of quiet defiance
Added: 23 Nov 2010

A city woman, Bhanu Ghela, remembers her life as a political activist in the protests of the 1940s against the Pegging and Ghetto Acts.

Changing our view of the Bushmen
Added: 23 Nov 2010

Seen as the surviving remnants of primordial hunter-gatherer societies, Bushmen are citizens of the same modern world as the one we like to call ours

Bremen to Durban: settlers forge a new life
Added: 23 Nov 2010

The 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first German settlers in Natal was celebrated in 1998.

A tribute to my jailer
Added: 22 Nov 2010

In 1971, Nina Hassim spent 78 days in solitary confinement at Hilton Police Station where she was interrogated by security police. She acknowledges the efforts made by an ordinary policeman to help her through this ordeal.

Before the silence
Added: 22 Nov 2010

The All-in Africa conference held at Plessislaer, Pietermaritzburg in March 1961 is recalled. It was addressed by Nelson Mandela and was the last national meeting organised by black opposition leaders until 1990.


A journey into the sun
Added: 22 Nov 2010

A Norwegian school book of the 1800s taught two generations of Norwegian children that Africa was 'unhealthy, indeed lethal, for Europeans' and populated by 'semi-wild barbarians'. Despite this introduction, a few of these children made their way to this continent, where their grandchildren and children still live today.

Maria Katharina Schmidt-Ihms (1914-1995)
Added: 09 Nov 2010

Maria Katharina Schmidt-Ihms, Emeritus Professor and long-time head of the Department of German in Pietermaritzburg, died in Canada aged 81. She was associated with the University of Natal for 36 years, built up the department from a handful of students to two fully-fledged departments on both campuses and was the first incumbent of the Pietermaritzburg chair in 1958.

Vryhof Anton (Hoffie) Van Der Hoven (1921-1993)
Added: 09 Nov 2010

Vryhof van der Hoven's professional career was devoted to medicine, and after making the choice to serve the public rather than remain in private practice, he rose to the highest rank in Natal's provincial hospital services. He was made an inspector of hospitals and then moved into the planning section, where he was centrally involved in the planning of the new Grey's. Deputy Directorship, and finally the Directorship of Hospital Services in Natal followed. The top post was not one that he relished, yet he held it with distinction.

Derek Milton Leigh
Added: 09 Nov 2010

It was as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art and History of Art on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of Natal that Dick Leigh spent the greater part of his teaching life, some 23 years in all. The compass of his teaching skills was exceptional. Working easily in the diverse fields of art education, art history and theory, painting and drawing, Leigh communicated a deep love for his subject to generations of students ranging from fledgling first-years, to post-graduates. He is represented in the permanent collections of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Durban Art Gallery and the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.

Kenneth Hallowes (1913-1995)
Added: 22 Oct 2010
Bishop Ken Hallowes, who died at his home in Pietermaritzburg on 10 July 1995 aged 82, came from a line of Anglican missionary priests. His great-grandfather came to South Africa in the early 1870s as a missionary sent by the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG); his grandfather was Charles Johnson after whom the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital at Nqutu was named; his father came from England in the early 1900s to work at the hospital in preparation for becoming a missionary.

Nancy Ogilvie (1898-1994)
Added: 20 Oct 2010
Nancy Ogilvie was known for her work in the Interdenominational Church Women's Association concerned with the needs of Pietermaritzburg's aged. Granddaughter of Sir Theophilus St George, Pietermaritzburg's first resident magistrate, and John Vanderplank, landowner and farmer, she was a mine of information on the city's social history.

Dulcie May Somers Vine (1916-1991)
Added: 20 Oct 2010

Dulcie Somers Vine worked for the University of Natal on the Pietermaritzburg campus from 1950 to 1977, retiring as Principal Administrative Officer. Much liked and respected, she was commonly referred to as 'The Administration'.

Gerhardus Adriaan 'Horace' Rall (1916-1997)
Added: 19 Oct 2010

In 1955 Horace Rall resigned from the Department of Justice and bought the farm Gracelands in the Muden Valley. It was during these years that he became actively involved in politics as a member of the United Party, unsuccessfully contesting the Newcastle seat against a cousin, Hannes Rall.
From 1960 to 1970 he represented the United Party in what was then the 'enlarged' Senate, a frustrating experience given the Nationalist majority and the inability of opposition Senators to influence legislation. More rewarding were the next four years as the elected member for Umvoti and member of the Executive Committee of the Natal Provincial Council where the United Party still had a majority, and where his bilingualism was an asset.

Auret van Heerden (1918-1997)
Added: 19 Oct 2010
In 1955 Auret van Heerden resigned from the civil service and commenced practising as an advocate at the Bar in Pietermaritzburg. He took silk in 1965 and was appointed to the Natal Bench in January 1967. When he retired in August 1988 he was the Judge President of Natal, having been so appointed shortly before his retirement. After his retirement he continued to serve, for he acted as a judge in Cape Town, Kimberley and in the Eastern Cape.

Gordon Small (1927-1995)
Added: 18 Oct 2010
Gordon Small did not serve Pietermaritzburg alone. Through the theatre and his involvement with the South African Institute of Architects (of which he became President-in-Chief at one time and from whom he received a gold medal for his excellence) his knowledge and enthusiasm sent pulses throughout the country and kept him in constant touch with the ephemeral world of the theatre in particular and of the arts in general.

Alexander John Milne (1929-1993)
Added: 18 Oct 2010

Following an acting judgeship in 1968 at the remarkably young age of thirty-nine, John Milne was appointed permanently in March 1971 to the Natal Bench where until October 1969 his father had presided as Judge President of Natal, a judicial office of prominence John Milne was himself destined to hold from October 1982 to December 1987. From then until his untimely death he was a judge of appeal in the Appellate Division in Bloemfontein where Sandy Milne, too, had held an appointment some years before.

Sidla ekhaya - we shall eat at home: the detainees' hunger strike in Pietermaritzburg, 1989
Added: 13 Oct 2010

From 12 June 1986 until the hunger strike in February 1989 nearly 2 000 people were detained under emergency regulations in the Natal Midlands. But after November 1987 increasing numbers of detainees exacerbated deteriorating conditions in prison and police cells and the average length of detention grew longer. It was these long-term detainees who decided to join the national hunger strike. In Pietermaritzburg the strike came to an end in early March 1989 with the release of detainees.

John McGregor Niven (1921-1991)
Added: 11 Oct 2010
In 1970 Jack Niven was appointed to the second Chair in Education at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, and in 1971 he became Head of the Department of Education. He held the headship for eleven years until in 1982 he became the Director of the University of Natal Herman Ohlthaver Trust Project which aimed at improving the quality of teachers in primary schools in the Natal KwaZulu region, while continuing as a professor in the Department of Education.

Neville James (1911-1991)
Added: 11 Oct 2010

Mr Justice Neville James, died at Pietermaritzburg on 14 June 1991, after a distinguished career in the law and in other public service. He epitomised all that is best in the tradition of justice. He abundantly possessed those qualities needed to sit in judgement - an incomparable mastery of the law, a lifetime of experience, deep wisdom and compassion. To these he added a marvellous wit and a gentle, but sometimes devastating, humour.

Robert (Treeman) Mazibuko (1908-1994)
Added: 08 Oct 2010

Internationally known as Treeman, Mazibuko was a committed enviroman long before global environmentalism became a widely-accepted discipline. But those who were lucky enough to enter his spiritual hut know the other side of the o1' man they call Treeman. Like a real tree of life, he had many branches; he was also a formidable philosopher and a down-to-earth internationalist.

Noel Desmond Clarence (1921-1995)
Added: 08 Oct 2010

Desmond Clarence was a scholar, a scientific leader, a distinguished vice-chancellor of the University of Natal, and a public figure who made a massive contribution to higher education and to K waZulu-Natal. Yet it is not for these qualities that those who knew him remember him best. It is for his warmth and his humanity, and for the personal qualities which illuminated their lives. They remember the intensely human personality as well as the qualities which made him a significant public figure.

A.S. Mathews (1930-1993)
Added: 06 Oct 2010

Tony Mathews refused all his life to accept official lies. Like the child in the fable, he asked such revealing questions about the emperor's clothes that evidence of his nakedness could no longer be ignored.
It took considerable courage. When he gained prominence in the mid-60s, the authorities wielded new weapons - like 90 and 180-day solitary detention. Faced with worsening state oppression, most people kept silent, fearing they would be detained or worse. In addition, Professor Mathews's particular targets - the judges of the highest court in the country - were treated as being beyond even reasoned academic criticism.

Ronald George MacMillan (1910-1998)
Added: 06 Oct 2010
Ronald MacMillan, who died in June 1998, joined the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg as Professor and Head of the Department of Education in 1957, and in 1971 became Vice Principal, from which position he retired in 1975. It was a period during which government policy, hostile to liberal education, became more pervasively influential, especially as central government's administrative authority increased. Perhaps that was one reason why, as Vice Principal, he jealously defended the relative independence of the Pietermaritzburg campus from the central administration in Durban. MacMillan consistently upheld principles of education policy and practice to develop open minds.

Reginald Bhekumuzi Hadebe (1957-1992)
Added: 06 Oct 2010

Another prominent political figure has been assassinated in the mindless war in the Natal midlands. The brutal murder of ANC leader Reggie Hadebe cannot be justified. It is part of the madness with which we have lived now for far too long. The savage irony is that Hadebe was returning from a peace meeting in the Ixopo district when the fatal attack took place. He was on his way to a meeting which was to consider ANC participation in the Pietermaritzburg forum, launched to design a city for the new South Africa.

Phillip Alexander Clancey (1917-2001)
Added: 30 Sep 2010

Phillip Clancey, noted as both an ornithologist and an artist, died in Durban in 2001. He was born in Glasgow in 1917. As a young man he was a field assistant to the famous ornithologist Colonel Meinertzhagen, an eccentric Englishman of German ancestry who had fought in the World War I East African campaign, and had at one time been a spy. Clancey had no formal tertiary education when he emigrated to South Africa in 1950. Nonetheless he was appointed curator of the Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg.

Michael Daly (19312008)
Added: 30 Sep 2010

Michael Daly, who died aged 76 in Pietermaritzburg in January 2008, was an attorney, city councillor, director of companies and president of The Natal Society. He was active in public life as a city councillor between 1961 and 1968 until obliged to resign due to the pressures of his legal work. In 1975 the Administrator of Natal appointed him a member of the Town Planning Appeals Board, of which he served as chairman from 1977 to 1985.

Lorna Davies (1911-2001)
Added: 30 Sep 2010

Lorna Louise Davies died peacefully on June 29 2001 at the age of 90. Her potential for nursing administration and nursing education was recognised in 1951 when she was appointed the first chief nursing officer for Natal, a post which she held for 19 years until 1970. This position made her responsible for all nursing services and nursing education in all hospitals and clinics in Natal (over 50 in number), apart from psychiatric and public health institutions which were not under the control of provincial authorities.

John de Villiers (19342007)
Added: 28 Sep 2010

John de Villiers was born in Graaff-Reinet in December 1934. He went to the Union High School there and then did a B.Sc. at the University of Cape Town. In 1957 he was appointed as a lecturer in Soil Science at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. By then he had worked at soils and irrigation research in Pretoria and spent time at Delft in the Netherlands studying the use of aerial photography for the interpretation of soils; this was part of his work, with others, on the great Tugela Basin project. He became an extremely distinguished and influential soil scientist.

Mary Ann Ebenezer (19172005)
Added: 28 Sep 2010

A pioneering educationist and the first Indian woman in Pietermaritzburg to get a university degree, Mary Ann Ebenezer died in her home at the end of April 2005. Ebenezer came from a family of educators. Her uncle, Jonas Ebenezer, was the first Indian teacher at Woodlands High School and her father, Job Ebenezer, was the first name on the school¹s admission book.

Ruth Edgecombe (1944-2001)
Added: 28 Sep 2010

Dorothy Ruth Edgecombe was schooled in Port Elizabeth and graduated at Rhodes University and Cambridge, where she completed her doctorate. She was temporarily employed on the Durban and Pietermaritzburg campuses of the University of Natal and worked at UNISA in Pretoria before returning to Pietermaritzburg in 1979. Thereafter she rose in the academic ranks from lecturer, through senior lecturer and associate professor to full professor of history.
She crusaded passionately for a succession of worthy causes with a resolve that tolerated no opposition: women's rights, human rights, animal rights, the significance of the potato and of coal in human history, environmental history and environmental conservation.

Peter Francis (19162009)
Added: 28 Sep 2010

Colonel Peter Francis, Honorary Colonel of the Natal Carbineers, died in the early hours of 15 May. He was 92. As well as being known for his association with the Carbineers, Francis was also a lawyer and long-serving member of The Witness board.

Ruth Gordon (19102002)
Added: 28 Sep 2010

Ruth Gordon (nee Ralls) (91) who died in Kendal in the English Lake District after a brief illness, was well known in Pietermaritzburg as an historian, author, lecturer and populariser of history and as a pillar of amateur music-making.

Margery (Mobbs) Moberly (19382008)
Added: 24 Sep 2010
Margery (Mobbs) Moberly (70) well-known in Pietermaritzburg from her long association with
the University of Natal Press, died in Durban in June 2008 after a brief illness, the victim of a particularly aggressive cancer of the lungs.

Mahomed Moosa (Chota) Motala (19212005)
Added: 24 Sep 2010
Dr Mahomed Moosa Motala has an arterial road named after him in Pietermaritzburg. It does not bear his full name nor does it carry the honorific, doctor. It is simply known as Chota Motala Road. Chota means small in Urdu, as in younger brother or uncle, and this was how Motala was affectionately known by his family, friends and political activists. Motala was 83 years old when he died, after a long illness, at his Mountain Rise home on Friday, 20 May 2005. Born in Dundee on 14 June 1921, he matriculated at Sastri College in Durban in 1938. He studied medicine in India, after stowing away on a ship at the age of 18 to get there. Motala returned to South Africa in 1948 and immediately
became involved in politics.

Cyril Nyembezi (1919-2000)
Added: 24 Sep 2010

Professor Cyril Lincoln Sibusiso Nyembezi, writer, lexicographer and humanitarian, was born in Babanango on December 6 1919. In 1960 he joined the publishing company Shuter and Shooter, where he became chief editor of African languages. He joined the board in 1975. As a writer, he was best known for his novel Inkinsela YseMgungungdlovu (The Tycoon of Maritzburg) which was adapted for television and became a popular series on Radio Zulu. In all, he wrote over twenty books, including two other novels and several volumes of poetry. He edited several anthologies and translated Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country into Zulu.

Steven Edward Piper (19452009)
Added: 24 Sep 2010

Ornithologist Dr Steven Piper, wagtail and vulture expert, was one of the most respected members of the South African ornithology community who died suddenly just weeks after celebrating his 64th birthday.

John Adams Pringle (19102002)
Added: 24 Sep 2010

Dr John Pringle, a former director of the Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg, died on 4 July 2002, in his 92nd year. He was born in Warrenton near Kimberley, but grew up on a farm near Lake Chrissie in the Carolina district of Mpumalanga. He had an active outdoor life there, where his interest in wildlife began. After schooling in Carolina, he attended the University of the Witwatersrand, majoring in Zoology and Botany. In 1935 he was awarded the M.Sc. degree for his thesis on the remarkable life history of a minute beetle called Micromalthus debilis which was breeding in pit props in the local gold mines. His thesis is still cited in scientific writings. His doctorate came in 1954, and dealt with aspects of snake embryology.

Bonakele (Bonie) Ntshalintshali (1967-1999)
Added: 23 Sep 2010
As a young woman living in rural KwaZulu-Natal, Bonakele (Bonie) Ntshalintshali became one of the leading ceramicists in South Africa, exhibiting her works throughout the country and abroad.

Donald Raymond Hunter (1927-1999)
Added: 23 Sep 2010
After decades as a geologist in Swaziland, Donald Hunter was appointed to the newly-created chair of geology on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of Natal, a position he held for 17 years.

Lorraine Kettley ('Joanna') (1920-1999)
Added: 23 Sep 2010
Lorraine Kettley, or 'Joanna', as she named herself, was a renowned Pietermaritzburg gardener and the chairman of the original group of local gardeners, formed in 1983, to discuss the possibility of opening privately-owned gardens to members of the public.

Peter Campbell Kerchhoff (1934-1999)
Added: 23 Sep 2010
Peter Kerchhoff was the organiser of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness (Pacsa) and was well known and admired among church people of all denominations for his stand on social justice.

Johan Cornelius Colenbrander (1912-1999)
Added: 23 Sep 2010
Johan Colenbrander (known to many of his friends as "Colen"), doctor and raconteur, ran the radiology department of Edendale Hospital for many years.

The origins of the Natal Society
Added: 19 Aug 2010

The Natal Society was founded on 9 May 1851. Its intention was to make the Colony of Natal better known and understood, so that suitable emigrants would be attracted. It was not its intention to form a public library of general literature; this did not occur to the founders and the town already had a public library. Yet today, 120 years later, it is as a library that the Natal Society is known.

Origins of the Natal Society: Chapters Four and Five: 1850-1851, and the Foundation of the Society, 1851
Added: 18 Aug 2010
Notice of the 1850 annual general meeting to be held on 19 August appeared in the Natal Witness on 5 July, saying that the Rev. J. Green would give an address on the occasion. But the foundation of the Natal Society grew out of an address to the landed proprietors, merchants, traders, agriculturists, and others interested in the prosperity of the colony of Natal in May 1851.

Origins of the Natal Society: Chapter Six: The Provisional Committee, May-June 1851
Added: 18 Aug 2010

Two meetings of the provisional committee of the Natal and East African Society took place. Fears about the size of the meeting proved groundless; seventeen of the forty-six nominated members attended the first meeting and twelve attended the second.

'We Come Unto our Father's God; Their Rock is our Salvation'
Added: 18 Aug 2010

The story of the Metropolitan Methodist Church in Pietermaritzburg (The Chapel Street Society), from 1846 to 1996.

The Centenary of the Augustinian Sisters in Natal
Added: 18 Aug 2010

The centenary of the arrival in Natal of the first group of sisters of the Canonesses Regular Hospitallers of the Mercy of Jesus, better known as the Augustinian Sisters, was marked on 31 October 1991. During this hundred years the Augustinian Sisters served the people of Natal through their sanatoria or private hospitals and through their homes for destitute or orphaned children.

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