Benit, Claire
April 2002
Urban Forum;Apr2002, Vol. 13 Issue 2, p47
Academic Journal
This paper will examine the particular case of Diepsloot, Johannesburg, in order to study the correlation between public intervention and the construction or destruction of the local 'community'. Diepsloot is not exactly an informal settlement, as it was planned by the apartheid authorities in the early 1990s in order to regroup squatters from the north of the Greater Johannesburg area, under the name of Norweto (North Western Township, conceived as the northern counterpart of Soweto—South Western Townships). One part (Diepsloot West) was developed into sites and services, while the other (Diepsloot One), intended for temporary settlement, has more of the characteristics of a shanty town: shacks abound, and poverty and the lack of facilities are widespread. Diepsloot is an interesting case in several respects. The settlement, which, according to estimates, has 18 000 to 30 000 residents, is marked by numerous internal social divisions which account for the high rate of local violence, making the development process all the more difficult. These social divisions stem from a long history of public intervention, which, whether intentionally or not, has revealed, deepened or even created social divisions within the Diepsloot 'community'. Finally, the scope for the contemporary development of Diepsloot exceeds the local scale, as shown by the multiplicity of private and public protagonists who are looking to intervene in this settlement, sometimes in a conflicting manner.


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