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1.1 Apartheid and housing in Mangaung and Botshabelo

a. Mangaung: the black housing area of Bloemfontein

According to Krige (1988; 1991) Bloemfontein is one of the best examples of the apartheid city. Extended information can be found in module 3.

What then was the impact on housing and how was housing used as a strategy to establish the apartheid spatial patterns? In the initial phase the emphasis was on providing housing to the existing inhabitants of Mangaung. During the fifties and the sixties, this provision of housing took place by means of some residential developments (Phahameng, 1956; Kagisanong, 1964 - Krige, 1990) since Mangaung was choosen as a specific location for the development of black housing. In this period more than 11 000 housing structures were erected of which approximately 6 000 were government built rental accommodation. Home ownership, of people who had it before apartheid was withdrawn. Ethnic zoning and the creation of buffer strips were also part of the planning process, while resettlement of people to Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo also took place. However, in 1968 all land expansions were frozen and black urbanisation was channelled away. The first expansion of residential land came in the mid-1980s when an initial private sector development started to provide houses to middle- and high-income groups in Mangaung. Making land available for low-income housing was still not on the agenda and squatting was still illegal. The result was that by 1990 Mangaung was severely overcrowded by especially backyard shack dwellers who stayed there "illegally".

The freezing of land in 1968 in Mangaung coincided with the channelling of all black urbanisation to Thaba Nchu and since 1979 to Botshabelo.

Click on image for larger version
[Apartheid housing in Mangaung]

b. Botshabelo, catchment for black urbanisation

Botshabelo also had to act as an extension of Mangaung. In terms of housing it meant that Botshabelo had to be made as attractive as possible. In contrast, Mangaung was neglected. Botshabelo was developed by means of the site and service concept with specific attention given to the development of a middle- and high-income residential area in Block H. The Botshabelo Investment Study (BIS) estimated the replacement value of the housing infrastructure and superstructures at R130 million. Furthermore, the replacement value of public sector housing finance is estimated by Marais (1997) at R60 million. In contrast no money was made available for this purpose in Mangaung between 1968 and 1990.

The "dumping" of people in Botshabelo also coincided with two attempts to bring people "closer" to their place of employment. The first was the establishment of a subsidised bus service, while the second was the declaration of Botshabelo as a decentralisation point. This means Botshabelo was to become an industrial development point in order to reduce the distance between place of employment and place of residence.

In 1988 approximate 14 500 people were commuting on a daily basis between Botshabelo and Bloemfontein. Therefore, despite attempts to initiate economic development in Botshabelo, Krige (1988) estimated that 55% of Botshabelo’s work force were employed outside the city. Neither the establishment of Botshabelo as industrial development point nor the creation of Bloemdustria (an attempt to shorten commuting distances) was successful and various irregularities occurred with subsidies (Cobbet, 1987).

The apartheid idea behind the establishment of the subsidised bus services was to shorten the distance between place of residence (house) and the place of employment (Marais, 1997).

By 1990 the most important patterns of apartheid planning and its impact on housing were visible in the BBT region. Bloemfontein was the economic core of the region, but in terms of residential provision black and especially low-income people found it very difficult to access. They were directed away from Bloemfontein to either Botshabelo or Thaba Nchu. Nevertheless, there were already signs of the crumbling of the spatial planning patterns, which would be further enforced during the political transition in South Africa during the 1990s.

map of Botshabelo figuur p.6 [The apartheid planning of Botshabelo]

Click on image for larger version [Botshabelo: household income]

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created: October 1999; last alteration: February 14th 2000 - JL