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KKholvad House in Market Street, Johannesburg, has had an interesting role in South African history. It was built in 1942 by a group of Indians who came to South Africa from the labourer community of Kholvad. They built flats as a means of raising funds to educate poor children back in their home village and here in South Africa.
The five-storey building was designed and built by a brilliant young architect, Rusty Bernstein, who was later arrested with Ahmed Kathrada and was one of the accused at the Rivonia Treason Trial. It was the home of Robben Island prisoner Ahmed Kathrada, for more than 16 years. It was also the place where Nelson Mandela uttered these profound words, “the first seeds of non-racialism were sown and a wider concept of the nation came into being”.
FFlat 13 became a haven and a beacon of non-racial social integration, a hub of intense political debate and tradition. In 1960, when Mandela and Oliver Tambo’s law firm was forced to close down due to the State of Emergency, Mandela continued seeing clients at Kathrada’s flat. In 1962, Kathrada was placed under house arrest.
TThe following year he broke his banning orders and went underground to continue his political work, but was later arrested and, with Mandela and others, sentenced during the Rivonia Treason Trial to life imprisonment.
Kholvad House, in Market Street, is located close to Chancellor House, at the corner of Fox and Gerard Sekoto streets in Ferreirasdorp, directly across the road from the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. The Chancellor House is where Mandela and Oliver Tambo opened their legal practice, Mandela & Tambo. It was the first black-owned and run legal practice in the country and defended those who could not afford legal representation as victims of apartheid laws. The practice eventually closed down in 1960 when Tambo went into exile and Mandela was arrested. When the law firm closed in 1960, Nelson Mandela moved to Kholvad House.
This five-storey building was restored in 2011 and now makes it onto the list of formidable Johannesburg heritage gems. Local residents and visitors interested in retracing the footsteps of the late former president, Nelson Mandela, can do so by hopping on a Rea Vaya bus to Soweto to learn more about this legendary man.
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