Oukasie originally formed in the 1960’s and was a squatter camp for servants and domestic workers who served families in the nearby Afrikaans community of Brits. During the late 60’s and early 70’s the town grew dramatically due to growing industry and both the white population of Brits and the black population of Oukasie increased. By 1980 the two communities were essentially adjacent to each other. In 1985 a meeting was called by the Brits town leaders to inform the black population of Oukasie that they would have to relocate to a new settlement in Bophuthatswana, called Lethlabile. The nearly 100,000 inhabitants of Oukasie were reluctant to move since there were few opportunities for employment in Bophuthatswana. An action committee was formed in Oukasie and essentially the population refused to relocate. The streets were barricaded and the action committee tried to attract international attention to their plight.
Eventually the residents of Oukasie were able to attract international attention and to obtain legal representation to forestall forced removal. By the late 1980’s the apartheid government was on its last legs and the community was able to persevere until the apartheid regime fell.
The second memory has to do with finding a map of “Brits and Local Areas” in a Brits bookstore. I was thrilled because, like many townships, Oukasie is a maze of winding routes. When I opened the map it clearly showed the town of Brits, but where Oukasie exisited (at this point with a population of several hundred thousand) there was just blank empty space. This was 10 years after independence.
Report on Oukasie and attacks on residents by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
An article on Oukasie written during the struggle.