Displaced families planning a reunion

Chantal Geland, Gavin Murray, Cathy Elrick, Cedric van Wykand Lowena Parker.

A pair of childhood friends are bringing their old neighbourhood friends together for a reunion after their community was split and scattered across the city by apartheid’s Group Areas Act.

Chantal Geland and Cathy Elick and their families were evicted from Steurhof and moved to Lavender Hill.

Ms Geland and Ms Elick, who live in Allenby Estate and Marina da Gama respectively, ran into each other 10 years ago in the parking lot of Pick n Pay Muizenberg and have been in contact ever since.

A while ago they decided to have a reunion with those who they grew up with in Suring Street in Steurhof but soon after decided to have a reunion for all those who lived in the area at the time.

Ms Elrick was 11 years old when they were evicted.

She still remembers vividly that they had beautiful fruit trees and recalls memories of playing in the street and on the field where the Three Arts Theatre was formerly located.

“We were one big family and share very fond memories – it was just amazing. We were very blessed to grow up in an environment like that – it was truly heavenly living in Steurhof,” she said.

As they were removed Ms Elrick said she didn’t understand the implications but remember the hurt, the sadness and anger.

“To be shoved into Lavender Hill was a rude awakening. When we moved to Lavender Hill we weren’t used to it and we were kept inside the house because of gangsterism and crime happening outside.

“Unfortunately some of us as children then were drawn into that life and others were fortunately strong enough to get out. It was a rude awakening. We were scared and we were exposed to murders and a life of crime. It was very heartbreaking and sad”.

Ms Geland said some of their friends became gangsters, some were murdered and killed.

“We decided to have this reunion to recap and rekindle friendships that were broken because of the ugliness of the Group Areas Act and to remember the good times we shared before the chaos.”

Ms Elrick said they cannot turn back time but they can try to compensate for the breaking of friendships and loss of friends by trying to find the others who had their lives turned upside down as children from 1972.

“Some have passed on and gone in different directions but when we get together we want to celebrate and to take all the hatred of the past away and thank God for what he’s brought us through”.

The group will stick to Covid-19 protocols and special guests will include some of the older family from the older Steurhof community.

The event will be held at South Peninsula High School hall on Saturday November 28. For more information or to reconnect with the group contact Lowena Parker on 082 235 0270, Chantal Galand on 060 972 0014 or Cathy on 073 142 8982.

The group thanked their sponsors and all who made the arrangements possible.