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Sonny Leon

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 14 APRIL

14 April 1960, SA Protea cricketer Patrick Symcox born.
14 April 1982, Sonny Leon Library opens in Roodepan.

(Pictured is Sonny Leon)

DID YOU KNOW

Lionel Samuel (Sonny) Leon (29 November 1911- 31 July 1990) was born in Johannesburg and worked in a furniture factory up until World War II when he signed up to fight, enlisting in South Africa’s oldest regiment, the Cape Corps. He saw active service with the Cape Corps and the 6th Armoured Division in East Africa, North Africa and Italy and was frequently mentioned in dispatches, reaching the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major, at the time the highest rank a soldier “of colour” could attain.

While he was a Private in the Army Educational Services he applied to follow a NCO course at the Khartoum Military College but was turned down because only whites could attend the college. He was transferred to Kimberley as RSM at the Corps Training Depot and was there when the war ended, specializing in artillery and the training thereof. He was then seconded to the Demobilisation Corps.

The attitude of the white soldiers made him bitter because he felt it was his duty not to allow any system (like the Nazi system) to come near his country South Africa. Thus, after the war, he promised to himself, he would enter politics in order to fight injustices.

In 1945 he married Helene – the union producing seven children -and settled in Kimberley where he was to take an active part in politics, and in particular, fighting to better the life of the so-called coloured people in the town. In 1948 he became an organizer for the United Party in the election won by the Nationalists.

He was a founder member of the Labour Party in 1965 and served as national leader from 1971 to 1979 when the Coloured Representative Council was disbanded. Leon served as a member of the President’s Council between 1981 and 1984 and during the entire period of apartheid was an outspoken critic of the government.

Was the local Chairman and National Vice President of the SA Coloured Ex-Servicemen’s Legion of the British Empire Service Legion (BESL), now the SA Legion.

Leon had joined De Beers as a brush hand in 1952 and progressed to being a painter in the Engineering Department by 1967.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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