Slovo Park at a Glance

Slovo Park is situated in a politically and socially sensitive stretch of land south of Soweto. The community has been known by national government as Nancefield, by local council as Olifantsvlei and in the last five years as Slovo Park – named in honour of South Africa’s first minister of housing and former Umkhonto we Sizwe General, Joe Slovo.

The forced changing of identity reflects an on-going struggle faced by the leadership of Slovo Park to gain recognition as a legitimate settlement to access governmental support. This battle has been fought through constant shifts in governmental policy, power and promises for the community of Slovo Park. Their only tactics comprising of service delivery protest, painstaking formal requests for upgrade and currently a lawsuit against the City of Johannesburg.

Currently the community of Slovo Park with its development partners are strategizing this key social and political move.




Monday, October 1, 2012


If you want to understand a community, ask them about their aspirations.

Slovo Park is situated in a politically and socially sensitive stretch of land south of Soweto. The community has been known by national government as Nancefield, by local council as Olifantsvlei and in the last five years as Slovo Park – named in honour of South Africa’s first minister of housing and former Umkhonto we Sizwe General, Joe Slovo. This forced changing of identity reflects an on-going struggle faced by the leadership of Slovo Park to gain recognition as a legitimate settlement to access governmental support. This battle has been fought through constant shifts in governmental policy, power and promises for the community of Slovo Park. Amidst the struggle, stories of sinister land dealings have emerged, outlining a possible truth that the ground beneath Slovo Park could have been sold from under the community’s feet. These allegations surface as the leadership of Slovo Park prepares itself to take action.

 Waterborne captures the moment of hope, held in anticipation, before the first truly concrete step towards a dignified future.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pap, Wors & Closure - an Informal End

by Omar Horzook 

Saturday 28-07 - With the late-night push for completion, the hall took on a different image on Saturday morning. Yet again, work was off to a slow start, despite the imminent hand-over. This was largely due the late-night, and that some of the principal volunteers operate taverns until late night on weekends. At this crucial stage, a last-minute trip to the local hardware store had to be done, to get tack screws needed to fix the remaining polycarbonate sheets.

With the prompt arrival of the 1:1 student team including the JCP students, the site became vibrant again. This despite the  fact that the day’s visitors ended up having to work, clearing  up the site of rubble, neatly storing the un-used bricks to form outdoor seating, and washing and cleaning of the paved areas and the hall.

A final tidying up and cleaning of the hall and its surrounds made for a professional hand over of the site, even though a few aspects needed tending to. These are to be addressed in the upcoming week, and include final building of columns, painting of all steel work, sealing of the roof leaks, installation of the ceiling insulation panels, repairing of the floor tiles and closing of the window panels. Attention must also be paid to the ailing jungle gym, as it is over-used by the local children, and is in need of reinforcing.


Another Perspective
by Yolandi Viljoen

The day finally arrived. The upgraded Slovo Hall : Opening. Truth be told, I was dreading this day. Not being part of the building process for the last week and being forced to focus on other work, when we have not completed the Slovo Hall, was challenging. The community was eager to complete the process of enclosing the hall and Omar kindly updated us on the progress as the week went by.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that everyone was already hard at work when we arrived. None of us expected to be working on Saturday, but things needed to be done, and thus we all jumped in.

The energy was great. Bonga, Frank and the rest of the Slovo Khayalami Youth Forum set up a DJ set and the music attracted many children and unfamiliar faces. Julia offered to make us pap and Mohau and I drove to Kliptown for some meat to end the day off proudly South African style, with a braai.

At 6PM when we left Slovo Park, I felt very close to content. Saying a temporary goodbye to everyone we have met the last 2 months, made many things I know ,quite irrelevant and all the things I have learned, crucial.

Japie and Tebogo
The improv-braai/tap

The JCP students from the University of Pretoria

Friday, July 27, 2012

Build Evening: Last Minute Slovo Fixes...

In true Slovo tradition we were busy until the very last moment on the final elements f the upgraded Slovo Hall.

In this case the movable south wall walls/doors proved to be far more tricky than anticipated. This had the community build team up until the early hours of the morning working away on the steel frames.

Nevertheless, the team pushed through and had the doors ready for the Saturday festivities.

Building Continues... Community Takes Over

by Omar Horzook

The end to Build Week, 16-20 July, saw the team having to work on Saturday, 21-07-12 in a drive to push for completion. Despite the team’s best effort not everything could be achieved. This left some important elements outstanding, as well as many smaller details. These include the door to be fitted into the opening in the north wall, the brick columns to be built around the extended steel supports, the structure for and completion of the roof extension, and the tip-up doors to the south.
Sunday 22-07 - The construction team decided that Sunday was to be a rest day.

Monday 23-07 - Owing to a number of community meetings, commencement of building was postponed from Monday to Tuesday.
Tuesday 24-07 - Building was off to a late start as many of the Slovo Park residents employed in the adjacent cemetery project were unsure of their employment position due to the project being  temporarily halted. This is in part due to the complaints by the Slovo Park residents of their possible eviction to make space for the cemetery for project.
Building work commenced around 3pm with much of the steel work being done. Some brickwork from the previous week was also corrected or completed. A quick tidying up of the site saw all rubble being collected to fill the base of the bench cavity wall. This was topped with soil and moistened to help settle and level the soil.

Wednesday 25-07 - (O. Horzook absent) Support structure of the roof extension to the west was largely completed, with only the southern end having been delayed due to the lack of material and a generator. The brick piers forming the partitions for the benches were finished off to cill level. The concrete topping for the benches was cast and left to cure

Thursday 26-07 - Yet again, construction for the day was delayed, with myself and Mohau having to run errands to draw money, and to purchase groceries for meals for the build team. Some work carried on on site, but only a few volunteers were present. With the concrete having settled, preparations were under way to finish the bench with the timber slats prepared during Build Week 1. The detailing for this was only resolved at the end of the day, leaving the finishing for Friday. Final adjustments to the windows were made, and the filling in of the external window cills began. For this, it was decided to use the clay tiles donated by Akhani. 

Jhono arrived on site with roof sheeting and cement collected in Brakpan, as organised by Kiana. These sheets were immediately fitted to the hall, with only a 1/3 of the length outstanding. Building material including Sanitaryware, countertops and mirrors were generously donated and delivered to site by Builders Warehouse Rivonia, organised by Abby.
Friday 27-07 - Installation of the timber seats started first thing in the morning whilst the local team was still at breakfast. This took the rest of the day, with only four of the six benches being completed, owing to a shortage of nails. The door to the north was eventually brought into the hall, and is brickwork surround integrated into that of the adjacent brick support column. Mr Mapara also continued with the brick columns to the east side between the benches. The remainder of the roof sheets were fitted, and the polycarbonate sheets above the west   windows were cut and prepared. Fitting of these commenced in the afternoon.

Friday Evening - Having left the site at 5:30pm, work still carried on by the locals. Some more brickwork was finished, with the bulk of the late-night work being welding of the south door frames. Members of the 1:1 Team came to lend a hand, including Jhono Bennett. Work ensued until 12:30am Saturday morning.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Build week: Day 5

by Tuliza Sindi

What we hoped would be the final day of building met us with an interesting addition of work: raising the roof. A long discussion was had between Buccs, Japie (the welder) and myself about ensuring the stability of this already fragile structure. Rather than lifting it 1m high, we resorted to raising it only 0,4m high. Although all of the 1:1 team members had reservations about successfully lifting the roof and bracing the columns, community members insisted that it could and should be done and finished by Friday. With our focus forcefully deviated to this task, the hopes of completing the project today dwindled.

As some of the JCP students continued with the tarp over the gumpoles, others went to work on sanding and cutting planks of wood for the east seating edge. Carin came and spoke to us about possible details for the bench, which sent Frank Jnr., Bonga and I on a hunt for more wooden planks.
                                Scrap wood from the factories would be perfect seating

As we went, Japie commenced with the roof by welding a structure that would act as a transfer beam when the columns get cut to be raised. They started on only the eastern columns first, with several community members needing to hold up the roof while Japie displayed his welding skills.

Frank Mpendulo and Bonga Nyembe, members of the Slovo Khayalami Youth Forum

Due to an error in judgement, a smaller window was opted for on the south side's left corner. This meant that the wall now used a lot more brickwork than we had planned for.

Panic consumed us all when the west columns got cut and the transfer beam fell, thus making the roof collapse. One of the workers sprained his ankle and was treated and bandaged, while others worked on restabilizing the roof.

                                                          Japie and his team

What was a consistent problem on site was communication. Omar, Clare and I were in charge of resolving construction issues, but only Omar was heard. Sometimes Clare and I were left to tell Omar what the solution was in order for him to tell them so that it could be heard/accepted. When Omar left, they requested to speak to him on the phone rather than to get those answers from us.

As we all agreed that Saturday be used as build day, we were saddened by the realization that the JCP students will no longer be with us.

So there's no signing out yet; we are certainly looking forward to what tomorrow has in store for us!
Photos by Ingmar B├╝chner

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Build week: Day 4

by Yolandi Viljoen

This morning we had a late start.

Omar arrived just in time to start his great project management skills. We decided that the objectives for the day was to weld all the windows, finish fixing the paving, put up the shading cloth and finish all brickwork.

The work started off slowly, but as loads had to be done, it picked up soon. The University of Pretoria JCP group took the shade cloth project into their own hands, and the results were greater than we expected. By adding something as simple as shade cloth, changed the space completely.

Welding had to be done, and we needed a bigger generator to power the welding machine. We made a few calls and quickly Mr Frank Mapara organised one from Kliptown, and before we knew it, it was already up and running. Abby apparently bought some petrol on her way to site.
Jedia took initiative with the wide range of sponsored pavers and incorporated the 1:1 logo into the new paving.

                                                                Some community helpers
Tuliza and I made another trip to Kliptowns’ PicknPay for supplies. The last we can afford. And on our way back heard that Nature’s Harvest sponsored 30 loafs of bread.
Buccs and Japie are adamant to raise the roof, with or without our help. We discussed many options, and we were worried about the structural integrity of the columns if they were to be cut and extended. I can however not argue with someone who has done steel welding for 20 years, so I phone a friend, a civil engineer, for a professional opinion. He gave the unofficial go-ahead. Buccs and Japie are convinced that it will be done before lunch time tomorrow. Success to be confirmed…
Mr Frank Mapara made us take out all the pavers, level the ground, and redo it. He also broke down a wall and redid it. He will not stand for anything but first class work (with second class labourers).

By the end of the day, we have not completed all the welding as planned, but that is how it goes. But the progress is finally visible! The windows will be installed tomorrow, and with our generously sponsored paint, we will coat them with pride. The walls, benches and columns are also on our list, so is the wooden seating.
Slovo Park Youth Forum aka Slovo Khayalami, lead by Frank Mpendulo, will all be dedicating their time to help us on our final day for the build week, branded with their Slovo Khayalami badges.
Photos by Clare Hughes