On the corner of Strydom and Van der Westhuizen Streets, we find a house which tells an interesting story of coincidence. It was once the home of the Malan family. The father was the principal of Hoër Volkskool and his son, Jannie Malan would later be the moderator of the Dutch Reformed Highveld region. From 1968 to 1993 was he the reverend of the Aasvoëlkop congregation where his path would have crossed with struggle activist Beyers Naude.
The Malans would always be thought of as the family who raised a black boy. It was unusual to take care of a black boy during apartheid. This boy happened to be Hezekiel Justus Tshungu, born on 18 October 1925 in the district of the Waterberg. After his father, an evangelist Manna Tshungu died, he was sent to his mother’s place of birth – Heidelberg. Here he ended up as a street child, but the Malans noted his potential and invested in his education. He also received a bursary from the Dutch Reformed Mission Church to further his education.
Justus Tshungu had a love for languages. During a political meeting, he informed Heidelberg’s elect Dr Verwoerd that he was delivering two speeches – his own and a different one by the interpreter in an African language. Dr Verwoerd enquired about this, and it was confirmed to be true. He then asked Justus Tshungu to be the interpreter. He was thereafter used to interpret on an ad hoc basis for prime ministers such as BJ Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk.
He served as secretary for the Advisory Committee of Native Affairs for 10 years. In 1958 during a communal meeting in the old Anglican Church, he supported the move of the old black township (“Ou Skom”). It was located in an area of low marshy ground, where the industrial area is located today. It was intended to be moved close to where the black resort of Round 14 was located, next to the Blesbok Spruit. The move was part of separate development and the apartheid policy of the day. Those favouring the move were known as “sell outs”. Justus Tshungu took the lead and became the first resident of this new township. Others followed and the rest is history. There were however still disagreements amongst the Sotho and Zulu factions and they were constantly in conflict with one another.
He showed leadership by trying to bring these factions together. A competition was suggested for a name for the new township; and his own suggestion of Ratanda won. The name is derived from a combination of “rata”, from Sesotho and “t(h)anda” from IsiZulu, meaning love. He wanted love to conquer indifferences. He saw the struggles as birth pains. Ratanda came into being in 1958 and 60 years later in 2018 received heritage status. In 2018 he would address the Ratanda residents for the last time before his voice became silent on 29 April 2019. He was a well-known radio personality, the first radio presenter of Radio Banthu in 1960. He received several awards for his contribution to promoting co-operation between different racial groups. He was also the presenter of a famous television series in which he educated viewers on black languages and cultures. A renowned preacher, who traveled internationally. He was awarded the television personality of 1977. In 1976 he delivered 63 public speeches attended by up to 25 000 people. In his life as a teacher, his students always obtained a 100% pass rate. He was seen as a propaganda spy by some political activists because of his love for Afrikaans. He was always sincere and we are privileged to have had our first black Voortrekker for the Ratanda Township in this house and in our midst.