Vintage: District Six, Cape Town, South Africa by Cloete Breytenbach (1960s)

Vintage: District Six, Cape Town, South Africa by Cloete Breytenbach (1960s)


Cloete Breytenbach began working as a journalist on an Afrikaans-language newspaper in Cape Town in 1951 and went on to an international career. But Cape Town remained his home base, and “District Six,” his moving series of photographs at White Box, is set there.

District Six was the name of an area that was Dutch colonial farmland in the 18th century and by the 20th had become a lively part of Cape Town. Its population was racially and ethnically mixed, but most of its real estate was controlled by absentee white landlords who over the years let the working-class neighborhood fall into decay. By the 1960s it had become seriously run-down and an embarrassment to nearby “white” Cape Town.

In 1966, under apartheid, the city declared District Six to be an official white area. As a result, virtually the entire population was forced out and moved, some far from the city. In the late 1970s, when the neighborhood was finally empty, the governmentbrought in bulldozers and leveled it.

Young boys performing martial arts with knives to their tongues, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

A young boy posing on the streets of District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Playing snooker on a makeshift table during leisure time in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Residential neighbourhood of District Six on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Residents of District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

A woman with her child outside their residence in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Vehicles, homes and residents on a one-way street in District Six, on the slopes of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Catching a ride on the back of a passing vehicle made for great entertainment, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Catching a ride on the back of a passing vehicle made for great entertainment, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

This friendly group ventured outside in Kent Street to oblige the photographer, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

This friendly group ventured outside in Kent Street to oblige the photographer, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Hawkers' barrows, District Six Hawking fresh vegetables, fruit, or fish, was big business in the area, and beyond. When not in use, hawkers' barrows were stashed along pavements. The wheels were removed to prevent unauthorised use or theft by rivals, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Hawkers’ barrows, District Six Hawking fresh vegetables, fruit, or fish, was big business in the area, and beyond. When not in use, hawkers’ barrows were stashed along pavements. The wheels were removed to prevent unauthorised use or theft by rivals, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Men socialising around the piano, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Men socialising around the piano, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

The old fish market in Hanover Street, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

The old fish market in Hanover Street, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

The Cape Minstrels parading on the streets of District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Interior of a home in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Sunday was show off day for the teenagers. That was when their best and latest finery were paraded on street or at meetings, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Sunday was show off day for the teenagers. That was when their best and latest finery were paraded on street or at meetings, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

This impromptu sign greeted visitors on entering the area, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

This impromptu sign greeted visitors on entering the area, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

On Clifton Street, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Residents walking down Richmond Street in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Residents walking down Richmond Street in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

A mother and daughter at their home in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

A man plays his guitar on the window sill of his flat in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Girls playing with a skipping rope on the road outside their homes in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Martial arts, District Six, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach

Young girls from District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Cloete Breytenbach


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