Peripheries of Cape town
In the context of Cape Town, citizens organize and occupy vacant lands, underutilized buildings to meet housing needs. The homegrown settlements in Cape Town are often located on the periphery and are known as the Cape Flats. The Cape flats is a wide, low-lying area to the southeast of Cape Town’s center. Cape Flats is bound to the east and west by rising terrain that slopes up to the cliffs. During the apartheid era, race-based laws such as the “Group areas act” pushed non-white populations out of central urban areas reserved for white people and into government-built townships or homegrown settlements on decommissioned landfills in the Cape Flats.
Khayelitsha (Xhosa for a new home) is one of the oldest prominent townships in the Cape flats that emerged from a consolidation of homegrown settlements in the region. Since the end of Apartheid, populations of homegrown settlements are no longer bound by racial constraints, however, history, language, economics, and ethnic politics continue to lead to the continuing homogeneity of neighborhoods.
The newer homegrown settlements are often built in the periphery because of less vacant land in the city and also owing to social networks in townships in the periphery. Even though most settlements are built on land where utilities could be provided, the challenge is often the ownership. In cases where settlements are built on land belonging to private entities, legally the state cannot provide utilities. The state has to first purchase the land from a willing private entity.
South Africa has a strong history of a community-based organization. In black neighborhoods, the first community organizations were ‘survival organizations’ like saving clubs, burial clubs, and church groups. In response to the apartheid government's crackdown in the late 1970s and early 1980s, "organizations of resistance" formed out of "organizations of survival". These organizations began to represent all residents of a specific geographic region and came to be known as residents associations or civic associations. Civic associations in homegrown settlements are mainly concerned with resisting eviction and negotiating accommodation and utility provision with the municipality. Currently, movements such as the ‘Reclaim the City’ campaign to stop displacement from well-located areas and secure access to decent affordable housing.
Occupation is a form of a demonstration by the residents of homegrown settlements - to exhibit a lack of adequate, affordable housing in the city. Organized occupation is often supported by NGOs who act as legal allies for homegrown neighborhoods. In the history of Cape Town, the act of occupation has also been used as a demonstration strategy for racial equality against apartheid laws. In the Cape town municipality, residents often deliver on the housing commodity themselves. The land value, in this case, poses a challenge because the land is located on the fringes, often the investment by the government is lesser here than that in the neighborhoods in proximity to the central business districts.