The Apartheid City

  • Brij MaharajEmail author
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL)


The geographical landscape in South Africa (physical, social and economic), was profoundly influenced by the policy of apartheid. This chapter analyses the rise and demise of the apartheid city and is divided into four sections. The first section focuses on compounds and locations, which marked the early phase of colonial segregation, and was often implemented under the guise of health concerns and slum clearance programmes. Municipal officials also viewed locations as a mechanism to control the influx of Africans into cities. The Natives (Urban Areas) Act of 1923 represented the first Union attempt to control, manage and segregate urban Africans. The Group Areas Act (GAA) of 1950 was one of the key instruments used to reinforce the ideology of apartheid and is the theme of the second section. The demise of the GAA and the rise of ‘grey’ and free settlement areas are discussed in the third section. The final section reviews post-apartheid segregation and desegregation trends. There are remarkable continuities between the apartheid and democratic eras in terms of socio-spatial inequalities, and neoliberal policies tend to reinforce race and class segregation, rather than radically challenge the apartheid urban landscape. Although all race-based discriminatory legislation has been scrapped, the legacy of apartheid will be visible in the South African landscape for a long time.


Apartheid Segregation Group Areas Act Free Settlement Areas Neoliberal development 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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