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My Lenasia

NewsCrime WatchCommunity

Rose Park Lenasia

Lenasia is south of Soweto and is approximately 35 kilometers south west of the Johannesburg central business district and 45 kilometers south of the Sandton central business district.

Apartheid-era planners situated the group area for Johannesburg’s Indians near the Lenz Military Base. The name “Lenasia” is thought to be a combination of the words “Lenz” and “Asia”. The Lenz in question was one Captain Lenz who owned the original plot on which Lenasia is situated. Many of its early residents were forcibly removed under the Group Areas Act from Pageview (aka. Fietas) and Fordsburg, non-racial areas close to the Johannesburg city centre, to Lenasia. As segregation grew it became the largest place where people of Indian extraction could legally live in the Transvaal Provence.

The community of Lenasia played a prominent role in opposing the national tri-cameral elections held in 1984 and 1989 under the apartheid era National Party government. This was an attempt to create separate legislative assemblies in South Africa for Whites, Indians and Coloureds in order to entrench racial segregation and perpetuate the disenfranchisement of the African majority in South Africa. Lenasia also played a role in the creation and activities of the United Democratic Front. (UDF), the mass democratic movement that opposed apartheid in the 1980s and early 1990s before the unbanning of the African National Congress.

Many of Lenasia’s residents played a prominent role in the UDF structures and the broader anti-apartheid movement. Some of these activists became senior political figures after the first national democratic elections in 1994. Testament to the way the people of Lenasia have embraced democracy, is the fact that the official opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance, won Lenasia in the last local council elections.