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Hidden urbanities

South Africa's displaced settlements 30 years after the abolition of influx control

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Lochner Marais, Lejone Ntema, Kholisa Rani, Jan Cloete, Molefi Lenka, Pakama Siyongwana , Nelson Chanza , Ruth Massey, Deidré van Rooyen, John Ntema

02 August 2016


SACN Librarian, Lochner Marais

Research Report

Centre for Development Support, SA Cities Network

South Africa

Apartheid planning left South Africa with a distinctive spatial legacy. Influx control, forced removals and channelled urbanisation were instrumental in preventing black people from living in the core urban areas of South Africa. R293 towns were created expressly to channel urbanisation away from the core urban areas to these ‘displaced settlements’ located behind so-called ‘homeland’ boundaries. These settlements are also sometimes referred to as ‘hidden urbanities’, describing how the apartheid government tried to hide the urbanisation of black people behind homeland boundaries. They differ from the ‘black township’ areas created under apartheid, mainly because most of them are further away from economic core areas. The government introduced incentives, including transport subsidies and tax holidays, to encourage companies to locate in these areas. However, post-apartheid, the subsidies were discontinued, leading to companies disinvesting from many of these settlements. Four case studies were selected to provide a geographical spread. Three case studies were chosen because of their functional location in relation to existing metropolitan areas, while the fourth case study was chosen because of its linkages with a secondary city.


Website References

Built environment

Case studies


Human settlements

Intermediate cities


Poverty & inequality

Secondary cities

South Africa

Spatial planning

Spatial transformation


Urban areas

Urban form

Urban growth


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