Johanna Moolman was a young seamstress living with her parents in Roger Street, District Six, when she first met Stephen Jacobs.
He was originally from Port Elizabeth, but he had come to Cape Town to take up a job at Safmarine and had moved in with Louisa and Frederick Moolman’s neighbours.
“I would play dominoes with my friends in the street, and he would ask the neighbours, ‘Who is that girl?’” recalls Johanna.
Later Stephen asked her out, and the couple went on to marry at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court in 1973.
Half a century has passed since their wedding day, and Johanna and Stephen Jacobs, both now 72, celebrated the occasion with a small group of family and friends at their Hanover Street flat on Sunday August 20.
“We are still going strong as a married couple,” says Johanna. “We do have our arguments, but then we always talk afterwards about how we need each other.”
She gave up her job at the clothing factory to be a stay-at-home mom while Stephen worked for 15 years as a foreman at Safmarine and another 20 as a Golden Arrow bus driver.
The couple lived in a flat in Roger Street, not far from Johanna’s parents’ home, and they raised four children, Louisa, Kelvin, Bradley and Liezel, as well as Hyron Kettledas, Stephen’s son from an earlier relationship.
“They all studied at tertiary institutions, and we are very proud of their accomplishments,” says Johanna.
In the early 1980s, they were forced out of their home as the apartheid government completed its systematic bulldozing of the neighbourhood.
“We were upset about it, the government came to our homes and told us that we must move out, and we had no say in the matter,” says Johanna.
The family moved to a flat in Springfield Terrace in an upper section of District Six that was spared destruction.
After applying for restitution in 1996, the couple were able to eventually return to the neighbourhood of their youth. They moved into newly built flats in Hanover Street in September last year.
“We were so happy to move back; we got along with all our neighbours who were also from the old District Six,” says Johanna.
Their son, Bradley, now lives in their old home at Springfield Terrace.
Stephen has been battling health problems, and in June, he suffered a hip injury from a fall and is now in a wheelchair.
“My husband is not talking much, and my day has to start at 3am in the morning to help get him get ready for the day,” says Johanna.
Nevertheless, they still enjoy listening to music together, she says.