Tshisimani Group Areas ActOn 20 July 2020, SERI's executive director Nomzamo Zondo participated in a panel discussion entitled "Transforming Urban Spaces: 70 year legacy of the Group Areas Act", alongside Adv Tembeka Ncgukaitobi SC. The discussion was hosted by Tshisimani and was chaired by Siviwe Mdoda.

Tshisimani Group Areas Act zoom3

In the discussion of the piece of legislation passed by the apartheid state on 7 July 1950, Zondo reflected on the contemporary ramifications of Group Areas Act by discussing SERI's experience of working with inner-city residents in Johannesburg, Abahlali baseMjondolo in eThekwini and the Marikana informal settlement in Philippi, Cape Town.

She reflected on the history of Johannesburg's inner city and its poor inner-city residents' experiences of exclusion and neglect by the City of Johannesburg through its various plans of 'regeneration'. She pointed out that under the previous political administrations and culminating with the former mayor Herman Mashaba's administration, plans for the City of Johannesburg have been obsessed with the aesthetics of the city without concern for poor inner-city residents. These plans have often been based on driving poor inner-city residents out of the City - much like the Group Areas Act did under apartheid to black people.

Zondo also discussed the emergence of private security bodies like the Anti-Land Invasion Unit in relation to the violent evictions of informal settlement residents ordered by municipalities. Zondo emphasised that from the work that SERI has done over the years, it has continued to ask "why it is that the state refuses to engage communities and would much rather unleash its violence on people?".

Ngcukaitobi and Zondo both emphasised that in the struggles for land reform, litigation has an important role to play but that it should not substitute or displace the critical work of grassroots mobilising and activism and should rather be viewed as an extension of that work and an additional political tool to aid movements and communities.

 

  • Watch the full discussion here.
  • View a video clip on the history of the Group Areas Act.