The name “Zwelihle” means ‘beautiful place’The ‘location’ to which black families were moved in 1963 and subsequent years in Hermanus was not a ‘beautiful place’, somewhat barren area however benefitted from long sunlight hours. The area of land was without services or amenities, kilometres out of town and adjacent to the town’s landing strip.

Initially people lived in a small area comprising 40 houses with limited amenities. Slowly housing has been improved and today Zwelihle is a vibrant place with schools, spa shops, churches, police station and a library. The health clinic is nearby. There are a variety peoples and cultures today

The families that were moved had been living among the coloured community in Mount Pleasant, Zwelihle grew quickly, though official statistics are hard to come by, but today the best estimate of the population of the formal and informal sections of the suburb is 30 000. Its 45 year history is currently completely undocumented except through few newspaper articles and municipality documents. The Hermanus History Society hopes to remedy this situation, a task which needs to be done urgently, as the generation of men and women who were personally removed to Zwelihle is ageing and we are in danger of losing valuable first-hand accounts of what it was like.


Angela Heslop