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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master's thesis
Title They come here and take our houses!: Community conflicts in Langa in the context of the housing crisis in Cape Town: Borners against migrants
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
Abstract
hat "there will be houses, comfort and security for all" was one of the rallying cries of the South African progressive movement under apartheid. When, in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) toppled the, apartheid National Party in the country's first 'free and fair' elections, the promise of 'housing for all' again formed an important part of the vision of a 'new' South Africa. Yet in Cape Town, thirteen years later, the promises of housing for all conflicts strongly with the reality of an increasing housing backlog in the city. Apart from the obvious growth of informal and overcrowded dwellings around the city, one of the consequences has been that a narrative has emerged among residents born in the city, known as 'borners', that places responsibility for the continuation of their homelessness on people who are born outside of the city. Known as 'migrants', it is against such people that 'borners' have begun to articulate their entitlement to housing in Cape Town. This thesis is an attempt to examine such claims and the divisions which such claims imply. Using a case study of a township called Langa, the thesis attempts to understand how and why such claims are being made. Doing so requires an exploration of South Africa's past and present. By examining the past, the thesis argues, the categories 'homers' and 'migrants' can be seen as products of the attempt by South Africa's past segregationist regimes to mediate between the need for labour by capital and the racist desire to achieve a 'white' South Africa. In the post-1994 era however, the claims about division are not only encouraged by the discursive legacy of the past, but also by contemporary factors which have encouraged 'borners' to define themselves as different and in opposition to 'migrants'. Factors commonly cited by 'borners' include the facts that housing delivery is slowed by the increased demand for houses that results from large-scale immigration and that housing delivery is biased in favour of 'migrants'. Ultimately however, such conceptions about who is responsible for either producing, or usurping the tiny offerings forthcoming in Langa, misjudge political-economic reasons for the lack of housing. Working-class people waiting for houses pit themselves against others who are also without adequate housing, and the more direct causes of their housing woes, the present housing development strategy and the current direction of the macro-economy, essentially remain unchallenged.

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Copyright DataFirst, University of Cape Town