The main street in Ratanda, or as it is referred to, “the big road”, is Heidelberg Road. It takes you through Ratanda and played an interesting part in the history of Ratanda.
Initially, there was a lot of conflict between the Zulu and the Sotho communities at the relocation to the new location in 1958. They grouped themselves on opposite sides of “the big road”. Many meetings were disrupted and the attendees were often advised for their own safety, to be armed. Justus Tshungu was duly appointed as secretary of the Advisory Committee for the black community of Heidelberg. He tried to guide the community but was labelled by some as a “sell out”. He became one of the first residents who moved into the house on the corner of Heidelberg Road and Blesbok Street. The Sothos rallied behind the Tshungus whilst the Zulu’s moved in on the opposite side of Heidelberg Road.
Ratanda developed in areas of ethnic preferences. The development on the west side of Heidelberg Road was predominantly Sotho. Such extensions were known as “Los my cherry” and “Tswerela”. Tswerela translates to “to be excused”. The message of hands off of our girls was directed at the Zulu’s to leave their Sotho girls alone.
The Zulu section had extensions known as RIP (“Rest in Peace”) and “Khumula Bhanshi” meaning to take of the jacket, being always ready to fight. We still find Zulu street names to the Zulu sides and Sotho Street names to the Sotho sides of Heidelberg Road.
Justus Tshungu was a peacemaker and suggested that all parties find common ground in naming the new location. His suggested name of Ratanda was accepted as part of a competition. The name is a combination of the Sotho word “rata” and the Zulu word “uthanda” both meaning love. He had the vision that the factions would eventually reconcile, love one another and live in peace next to each other.
On the corner of Heidelberg Road and Litopo Street, we find the Indaba House, or as it was known by the community, the “White House”. Many political meetings and decisions were taken here. The Ratanda Administration Office was located opposite it. The Ratanda residents were passionate and they are activists. During the xenophobic violence council properties and spaza shops (belonging to the foreigners) were plundered. Burnt out items are stark reminders of resistance.
During the Zuma-era, the Gauteng Province made land available for housing projects. The development was registered in memory of Ratanda’s community leader and Heidelberg’s first black mayor, Obed Nkosi. The community spontaneously renamed the extensions thereof “Marikana” and “Nkandla”. This was built by the government during this period and to remember police violence against mine workers during the Marikana Killings. The N3 passes Heidelberg linking Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal. The development of the then President Zuma’s residence at Nkandla and alleged state capture are to be remembered by residents of the newly developed extension.