Geographia Polonica (1993) vol. 61

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The changing apartheid city at the microscale: Black migration and the peri-urban black-white interface in the Durban Functional Region, South Africa

D. Hywel Davies

Geographia Polonica (1993) vol. 61, pp. 459-470

Abstract

The racially segregated South African "apartheid city" is crumbling withapartheid itself. With influx controls removed, rural Blacks are streaming into informalsettlements mushrooming around First World cities designed primarily for Whites. PoorBlack and comfortable White residential areas increasingly become juxtaposed. Thispaper examines part of such a developing interface in the Durban Functional Region(DFR), the second largest urban region. Here many Black informal settlements, growingat 6.5 per cent annually, fall under non-urban tribal authority within self-governing andunder-developed KwaZulu; adjacent White residential areas have conventional westernforms of local government. This paper focusses on a study area located on the northernfringe of the DFR in 3 contiguous sub-areas to illustrate some problems and responses ata Black-White interface. Embo-Hillcrest displays a sharp residential interface betweenthe KwaZulu district of Embo and the White township of Hillcrest. The Embo-FarmUEL980 interface has a recently approved land use change from a White-ownedsugarcane farm to a proposed industrial park intended to provide local Black employment.In the Molweni-Waterfall area planned Black resettlement on former White landimpinges on a White township.Local problems include Black access to urban transport and amenities within Natal notfound in KwaZulu. There is White concern over security and property values and therehave been insensitivities in development application. But there has been encouragingconsultation between Black and White communities across the interface. Potential"flashpoints" have been identified where informal settlements of the poor, living insocio-political turmoil and a crisis of unrealistic expectations, are juxtaposed with thoseof Whites, seemingly secure and insensitive to Black needs but in profound future shock.Secondly, divisions, diseconomies and compartmentalization permeate urban life — thusKwaZulu and White authorities lack adequate mechanisms for interaction. Urbanizing Blacks are divided over tribal authority and political affiliation. Cross-cultural conmunicationdifficulties are exacerbated by the apartheid legacy. The post-apartheid cityr facesenormous problems, but established administrative structures and economic bas»s offeropportunity for managing an alarming urban future.

Keywords: post-apartheid city, peri-urban interface, Durban

D. Hywel Davies, Geography Department, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa