Between the saxophone and the machine gun

Photo: Emil Williams

Photo: Emil Williams

“THE HISTORIC suburb of Sophiatown, on the westerly side of Johannesburg, was formed in the early 1900s when a spectaculor, Mr Tobiansky, bought the 237 acres that would become a byword for jazz, gangsterism and host the editorial heart of the infamous DRUM magazine. He named the plot “Sophiatown”, after his wife…

The removal of black residents from Sophiatown and the Western Areas became a government priority, as it steamrolled opposition from a wide range of civic actors and overruled the less vocal but similarly reluctant Johannesburg City Council…

Until 1955, Sophiatown was a community rich in intellectual debate, music, journalism and freedom of association. But, as in any area where resources are scarce and the population is large (and growing), crime was a large part of Sophiatown residents’ experiences – whether as victims or profiteers…”

Read WJP Researcher, Robyn Leslie’s article, tracing Sophiatown’s origins and the history of crime in the suburb, published by the Saturday Star, here. Part II of the story will appear in the Saturday Star on 18 October 2014. Also visit Sophiatown: A Critical Mess? for more on the project.


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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