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Can you help to  identify the children and teacher in this 1948 photo correctly? The list of surnames includes (front row from left to right) Jacobs, Naudé?, Smit, Marais, Basson, Lombard, “Stoffel,” and Mrs Theron. In the middle, the names include Van der Linde, Barbaise, Van Niekerk, Van der Merwe, Van der Sandt, Pieter Henning, Neethling, Britz, “Pedar,” Eyssell, Van der Lith?, Van Rensburg, and ?. At the back, the names are given as Lottering, Van Vuuren, Coetzee, Marais?, Conway, ?, Britz, ?, Raaths, Pypers?, Beukes, illegible, Peypers, Taljaard, and Du Plessis.

Help needed to identify these youngsters from 75 years ago

 

Last week, the Zoutpansberger was contacted by 80-year-old Louis Trichardt resident Schalk Grobbelaar, seeking assistance in solving a photo mystery.

Schalk informed the newspaper that he had recently received a framed photo from family friend Moraig Henning. She found the photo among her late husband’s belongings but was completely baffled by the people in it. Her husband, the well-known Peter Bernhard Henning, passed away on 28 November 2020 at the age of 80.

The photo shows a group of schoolchildren in civilian clothing, neatly posing for a school photo in front of what was said to be Laerskool Louis Trichardt when it was situated on the corner of Erasmus and Krogh Street. This building served as a school for almost half a century, from 1 September 1914 to the second school term in 1961, when Laerskool Louis Trichardt relocated to its present-day location.

Schalk mentioned that he was told the photo was taken around the early 1950s but was unable to recognise any of the children. He asked whether the newspaper would be able to publish the photo and inquire whether readers could help to identify the people in it.

Upon closer inspection of the framed photo, a mystery arose as the photo was framed by “The Framing Centre”, with an address given as 62 Harare Street, Harare. Many older residents will recall that Harare, in present-day Zimbabwe, was formerly known as Salisbury. The name changed in 1982 after Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, following a 15-year-long civil war. This indicates that the photo was either taken much later than the early 1950s or was only framed much later than being taken.

The newspaper decided to open the sealed backside of the framed photo, hoping for any inscriptions. Luckily, a few could be found. Written in ink was the inscription “P.B. Henning se klas in 1948, Standerd 1.” This solved the first part of the mystery as Peter, born on 5 May 1940 at the Elim Hospital, had indeed been a pupil of Laerskool Louis Trichardt until Standard 5 (Grade 7 today), after which he matriculated from St John’s College in Johannesburg.

Directly below this entry was a list of surnames written in pencil, said to be the children in the photo. However, the writer was evidently unsure as many surnames had question marks after them. Some surnames corresponding to the children in the photo were also omitted or illegible.

The list of surnames includes (front row from left to right) Jacobs, Naudé?, Smit, Marais, Basson, Lombard, “Stoffel,” and Mrs Theron. In the middle, the names include Van der Linde, Barbaise, Van Niekerk, Van der Merwe, Van der Sandt, Pieter Henning, Neethling, Britz, “Pedar,” Eyssell, Van der Lith?, Van Rensburg, and ?. At the back, the names are given as Lottering, Van Vuuren, Coetzee, Marais?, Conway, ?, Britz, ?, Raaths, Pypers?, Beukes, illegible, Peypers, Taljaard, and Du Plessis.

Another part of the mystery was solved regarding how the photo came to be framed in present-day Zimbabwe. According to Peter’s 2020 obituary, he lived and worked in Zimbabwe for some time for periods ranging from 1965 to 2009, when the family were forced to return to South Africa or face arrest for staying on his property/homestead “illegally”. What this means is that Peter had his old school photo framed in Harare whilst living there.

The question now is, who can help to identify all the children in the photo correctly and match names to the correct surnames? If you can assist, please contact Andries at Tel 082 603 2419 or e-mail him at [email protected].

 

News - Date: 02 December 2023

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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

Email: [email protected]

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