Before electronic databases were a reality, indexing was done by librarians by hand.
The South African Library instructed the Johannesburg Public Library to create an annual index of periodical information. It was called - is known as - the Index to South African periodicals = die Repertorium van Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrifartikels. There is currently a fairly complete set on Level 6 of the Merensky 2 library in the low shelf in front of the bound journals collection.
So, if, for instance, you needed to know what was written about x's poetry anthology, called. you could go and check the Repertorium (by hand).
In this way you would get references to articles you would have to follow up by hand as well. This means to check whether our library has it as part of our print journal collection, or otherwise to request it via ILL/Interlending.
Give your information specialist a shout if you need assistance!
PS: In the Reference Collection on Level 6 (Naslaanversameling) you will find three useful printed volumes. They are