Informal settlements as staging posts for urbanisation in post-apartheid South Africa
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Informal settlements in South Africa are as old as urbanisation itself. Various analysts have examined the emergence of settlements just outside the fringes of predominantly white colonial- and apartheid-era South African cities. In the 1980s, Cooper, Murray and Mabin engaged in debates on how rural South Africans in the bantustans sought jobs and opportunities under apartheid despite the various restrictions imposed on black people hindering their access to the cities. These migrants strategised to access the city and created spaces similar to rural slums (Murray 1987), as well as new informal settlements and other urban-style formations on the fringes and away from cities (sometimes called peri-urban areas). Although they sought access to the city, the apartheid government defined them as rural ethnic subjects. During this period, informal settlement dwellers maintained increasingly tenuous attachments with their rural homes.