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History as preserved by Sergeant Louw

SOPHIATOWN – A look into how gang violence affected the community in the '70s.

Ferndale’s Louw family shares their archives collected by their grandfather working as a police officer in the ’70’s.

The Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre in Sophiatown is the new home of the late, great former Sophiatown police officer Sergeant Edward Louw’s history. For those with family in Sophiatown in the ’70’s would remember the notorious policeman and his contributions to the history of Sophiatown. To commemorate his grandfather and share his community involvement with the residents of 2021, award-winning activist and documentarian Angelo Louw recently donated his grandfather’s archives to the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre.

Angelo expressed, “It is an honour to present the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre with my grandfather’s archive. These articles shine a different light on the gang violence that has plagued the area; it shows that the community has never been complacent, but that members of the community fought with their lives to stop the reign of terror since its onset.”

The Post’s 18 May 1975 edition which featured an article on the late great former Sophiatown police officer Sergeant Edward Louw who, along with his peers, founded the country’s first firearms association for Black people, in an effort to equip the community with gun safety as a means of protection. Photo: Supplied

The family donation to the centre shows how instrumental Sergeant Louw was in combating gang-related violence in the area during the ’70s, when the infamous Fast Guns and Vultures terrorised communities. The articles from The Post and The Daily Mail detailed the rise of these gangs and the efforts by Sophiatown police to stop the violence. The late, great Sergeant Louw joined the police force at the Sophiatown Police Station to combat gang violence that erupted in the ’60s. He was also a co-founder of South Africa’s first firearms association for Black people.

Commenting on the recent spurt of racist police violence, Angelo said that upon reflection, he believed that people are joining the police force with ulterior motives. “My grandfather is testament to the fact that when people join the SAPS with the right motives, to protect and serve the community, the police force can be an ally to the community and not contribute to its plight. There should be stricter criteria in the application process that questions why people want to become police.”

Later this year, in celebration of Sergeant Louw’s 90th birthday, his family plans to exhibit the articles and other memorabilia at the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre. The archive is available for research purposes upon request.

Details: Trevor Huddleston CR Memorial Centre (; 71 Toby Street, Sophiatown, Johannesburg;
email; +27 11 673 1271.

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