Imvubu Newsletter

The Time Family of Zwelitsha, 1947 and 2015

© Victor, S. 2015. Imvubu, 25: 2.

The story of this photograph unfolded while researching the development of Zwelitsha for the new permanent exhibition Idabi lenkululeko eQonce.

Zwelitsha was an experiment; a blueprint designed by the Native Affairs Department and the Industrial Development Corporation to ‘bring factories to the workers at their homes’. The first families moved into their two-roomed rented homes in November 1947. By 1952, however, the majority of factory employees were living in cheaper accommodation elsewhere. As an incentive, houses were sold to prospective Ciskeian buyers from 1956. The demand for housing increased when Zwelitsha became the parliamentary seat for the Ciskei between 1973 and 1981.

When the above photograph was taken c. 1947, The South African Information Service labelled this image “Public housing in Zwelitsha showing the interior of the livingroom (sic) in the teachers’ house”.

Sixty-eight years after the photo was taken, in August 2015, a chance meeting with Mr Velelo Time meant that the family on the photograph was finally identified. Mr Time was sure that it was his mother, Tryphina neé Ntshona, a nurse by profession, with her daughter, Nandipha Mati (neé Time), on her lap. At the sideboard is standing Nomfundo (Pinky) Msutwana (neé Time). After a phone call to his two sisters in East London, the excited family came to the Museum to view the image and obtain more information. Mrs Nombulelo Time, wife of Velelo Time, brought the vase, originally portrayed on the living room’s corner shelf, with her. It is now a family heirloom.


Mager, A. K., 1999. Gender and the Making of a South African Bantustan: A Social History of the Ciskei, 1945-1959. Cape Town: David Philip.

Zituta, H. M., 1997. The Spatial Planning of Racial Residential Segregation in King William’s Town: 1826-1991, Unpublished M.A. thesis, Rhodes University.

Stephanie Victor
Curator of History