District Six woman turns 100

Subeigah Hendricks celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday.

Subeigah Hendricks, of District Six, celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday July 3.

More than 100 family and friends attended her birthday party at the Cape Town Civic Centre, but the woman of the moment was unable to attend because she had fallen and broken her shoulder just a week earlier. However, she was able to wave at her guests on a video call.

Ms Hendricks was born in Johannesburg, but her family settled in District Six when she was 12. The family first stayed in Cannons Street but later moved to William Street. She attended the old Trafalgar Junior School.

She was married to Moosa Hendricks, and the couple had three daughters, Zahrah Nordien, Sadia Adams and Mariam Solomon, who are now 67, 72 and 76 respectively.

Her husband, who worked on a cargo ship, died at 45 while she was still 40 and she took on the responsibility of raising three daughters on her own, according to Ms Nordien. “She worked as a seamstress at a clothing factory in Salt River and did not remarry,” she says.

More heartbreak followed in 1975, when the family was forcefully removed from District Six. “It was traumatising for my mother as she did not want to leave District Six, she had her friends there and she raised her family there,” says Ms Nordien.

Ms Hendricks moved to Retreat to live with Ms Adams while the rest of her family stayed in Kensington.

Ms Nordien, who later became the founder of the District Six Working Committee, fought for her mother to get restitution prior to her starting that organisation. “Every week I went by bus to the land claims office to sort out my mother’s land claim,” she says.

Ms Hendricks returned to District Six in 2013 when she moved into a Rutger Street flat with Ms Nordien. “She burst into tears when she moved back. She could not believe that she finally returned home,” Ms Nordien says.

These days, Ms Hendricks just relaxes at home. Ms Adams says her mother is hard of hearing and does not talk much.

“We are fortunate that she is alive to witness the family coming together and we are grateful that we are alive to celebrate with her,” she says.

Ms Solomon says: “I am very excited that my mother reached her 100th birthday. I thank God every day.”

Ms Hendricks has nine grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.

Subeigah Hendricks in her 20s.