Real settlement still in doubt
HERE is a point on the scale of urban life
where the – always relative – freedom to
choose how and where to live ends, giv-
ing way to policy directives and munici-
For the family from Parktown, moving to
Pinelands is a complex, costly affair which - job or
jobs, housing and schooling having been assured –
generally goes ahead unhindered.
Middle-class migration is unexceptional, be-
cause the migrants’ self-sufficiency defines their
freedom of choice. The difficulty for any city is how
to manage those who are not self-sufficient enough
to trek and settle in the certainty that their translo-
cation will mesh invisibly and seamlessly.
City authorities must intervene – and are com-
pelled by law to do so – to manage the twin chal-
lenges of population growth and dependency.
This is the theme of our report on the Wolwerivi-
er relocation camp inhabited by people who, until
five months ago, lived near and lived off the Visser-
If they have been relieved of the environmental
risks of their old life, their new life has all but de-
prived them of food and income. The city argues
that they are now living within a future growth cor-
ridor, but their reality is tramping up to five hours
to the only places that yield work, or food. Strikingly,
residents express uncertainty about their future.
There are contradictions and few easy fixes – but
we are confronted in Wolwerivier, not for the first
time, with a sense that Cape Town is still missing an
overarching plan for settlement, for reshaping and
densifying a fractured city, and giving people the op-
timism of being part of a changing, progressive
This is the only basis on which their own sense of
agency, and hope of self-sufficiency, can be built.
Without it, the sustainability of the whole must be