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GaMothle - was Bantu Affairs Commissioner
Pretoria, Gauteng

J KELMAN: Contractor

Type:Government Buildings


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25°44'48.26" S 28°10'54.88" E

Wording from information board:

'GaMothle' [the beautiful place] was a name given by black people during the years that apartheid legislation was applied here. This building, also known as the 'pass office', was the first one in Pretoria decorated with strong references to indigenous black culture. This was at a time when local architectural styles in general were in vogue in South Africa, such as Neo-Cape Dutch, rondavel architecture and Neo-Georgian. But seldom in the country have black images been applied so confidently in an official building as one finds here.

The building has a quite formal Neo-Georgian block-like shape in red and black brick with white plaster, wooden doorlights and a central pediment. The decorations (friezes, sculptures and tile tableaux) represent animal and human images of various black cultures, as well as San (Bushman) paintings. The decorations were designed by Joan COUZYN, Alfred PALMER and other artists. The tiles were designed and made by the 'Ceramic Studio' at Olifantsfontein, south of Pretoria. Tableaux such as these decorated many hospitals, post offices and other government buildings during the 1930s.

Built by J KELMAN in 1932, the building was designed for the Bantu Commissioner's office in Pretoria by the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, during the period when John Stockwin CLELAND (1879-1950) was head of the department.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.